Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe Outdoors
Calling your dog back when he or she if off leash is a bit of a gamble for most dog owners. Sometimes the dog will return, but often he or she keeps on doing what they are doing, only to return when there is nothing exciting to sniff or chase. If your dog is heading into a potentially dangerous situation, such as running on a river bank or getting too far into the water, having a reliable way to get the dog to safety is a must if you want to walk off leash.
Recall for your dog is an important part of keeping him or her safe. When you can rest assured your dog will return when you call, you can let the dog roam and run and, if there is a potential risk or danger, simply call them back and put them on a long leash for additional control.
Recall training should start with the dog on a long lead to allow for some space between you and the dog. Use a familiar area, such as your own backyard, where there are limited if any distractions.
Have your dog’s favorite toy and some highly desirable food treats. Think up a specific command, which is not your dog’s name or the word “come,” to use for recall. Use this term initially when he or she is already headed for you and when you have not given the “come” command. Reward your dog immediately.
Initially, do not use the recall command, which could be something as simple as “return,” unless your dog is on the leash and you can direct him or her to come, or when they are already on their way and making eye contact with you. This prevents the dog from learning to just ignore the recall command and continue to do his or her own thing.
It is also important to provide praise in the form of food paired with something fun that has to do with you. It is essential not to give the recall command and then put the dog on a short leash or end the game; this will reinforce that returning is not a good thing.
By teaching your dog to come back on command, plus using the long leash to give your dog an idea of how far to travel away from you, it is easier to be proactive in preventing accidents. Additionally, as a responsible owner, stay aware of your surroundings and, in unknown locations where running water or other issues may be a concern, keep the dog on the long leash until you know where the dangers may be lurking on the walk.