True Story: I was at a Charlotte, NC local hiking trail (different day then the picture to this post) with a dog in training for dog reactivity. The dog in training was ON LEASH with me. I also had my two personal dogs with me and they were off leash (and they have been properly off leash trained & years of experience with it). From about 50 yards away I saw a woman hiking with her Yellow Lab coming around a bend in the trail. The Lab was not on leash. The moment the Lab saw me and my dogs it took off full speed right towards us. I told my personal dogs to "sit" and "stay." They did. The Yellow Lab was still charging. While my own dogs were sitting calmly I backed away with the reactive dog in training (on leash with me) so the Lab would meet my two friendly Pit bulls first. I said loudly to the woman, "PLEASE CALL YOUR DOG!!" She did...several times... to no avail. The Yellow Lab came full speed up to my personal dogs and they all sniffed each other for a while and everything went fine. By the time the dog greeting was over between my 2 personal dogs and the out of control Yellow Lab, the woman had caught up to her dog and put him on leash. She apologized over and over and said, "I'm sorry, I just cannot walk him on leash because he is so strong and pulls so much, so I like to let him run out here on the trails and he listens most of the time. He is friendly." I politely said I could see that he is friendly but not all dogs out in public are friendly and the dog I had with me on leash was in training for dog reactivity and aggression. Her jaw dropped as she said, "Oh my gosh! I am so sorry!!!!" I politely reminded her that her dog could have really been hurt. As we started talking, her Lab was a bit hyper on leash and trying to pull towards the other dogs non-stop. My personal dogs (off leash the entire time) remained at a distance and just waited calmly. The dog in training with me (on leash) was under control in a sit position. She commented, "I cannot believe how your two dogs are so well behaved off leash! How do you do that?" I told her I was a dog trainer in the Charlotte, NC area and I would be happy to train her Lab for off leash obedience (and to walk well on leash for her....without pulling). She became very excited, engaged and asked a lot of great questions. I eventually explained the only SAFE & RELIABLE way to train a dog for off leash obedience is with proper remote E Collar training. She frowned and said, "Oh no. I could never do that." Ummmmm... E Collar she couldn't do but allowing her dog to run up to any other dog or person without permission is acceptable or even safe? Ummmmm....
In my opinion, the above situation is completely inexcusable and irresponsible, regardless of how friendly the dog is. Unfortunately the above situation is all too common in our communities. Too many dog owners feel, that even without proper off leash training, their dog is "pretty good" off leash and it listens "most of the time" and... their dog is friendly so it isn't a big deal to take their dog off leash. However, taking an untrained dog off leash is a big deal and here is why:
1. Many people (and canines for that matter) are scared of dogs. It is unfair to subject these people (and fearful dogs) to unwanted solicitation by an untrained off leash dog.
2. Regardless of how friendly one's dog is or how good one's dog may be off leash without official training, at some point, a verbal or hand command will fail and then... the owner is left helpless... just hoping that bad things don't happen. That is not fair to the public (or your dog).
3. It is unsafe for your dog: your dog could approach an aggressive dog on leash, run in front of a cyclist or maybe run into the middle of a road, among many other things. Relying on "pretty good" is NOT good enough when it comes to off leash dogs.
4. Untrained off leash dogs simply give ALL off leash dogs a bad rap.
Remote E Collar training is... BY FAR... the SAFEST and MOST RELIABLE way to train a dog for off leash obedience. It consists of several steps with positive reinforcement, clicker/marker training, long-line training, command, body positioning, rewards, collar pressure training (with leash and e collar), etc. Again- several stages are involved. While nothing is 100%, proper Remote E collar training is absolutely the SAFEST & MOST RELIABLE way to communicate with a dog when they are off leash. Verbal commands are going to fail at some point with a dog when they are off leash. Remote E collars provide the ultimate assurance that our dogs will be SAFE and RELIABLY obedient when off leash, especially when around distractions and even from a distance. However, proper Remote Electronic (E) Collar training is a PROCESS. It is NOT, by ANY means a matter of "slap an E Collar on a dog and if they don't come when called, hit buttons." Absolutely NOT... not even close. It needs to be done by an experienced handler/trainer and it is done over several stages over several weeks. When dogs go through the proper process... dogs get EXCITED when the remote E Collar comes out because they know it means FUN TIMES ahead! My personal dogs Ralphie and Sawyer dance in circles when the remote collars come out because they know we are going mtn biking, hiking, camping, playing fetch, going to a park, etc. The association is no different than when the average owner gets their walking shoes and dog leash... the dog KNOWS its Walk Time! Yay!!
I encourage all dog owners interested in off leash obedience to look at the hundreds of off leash videos on the Allegiant K9s Facebook page & Instagram Page. People will easily observe dogs that are happy, confident and SAFE while off leash...even with distractions present!
Please, if you want your canine buddy to have off leash freedom, then have them properly trained for off leash obedience.... for the safety of your dog and the safety and comfort of others!
*We of course NEVER promote training aggressive dogs for "fun off leash situations." No way. We do train ALL dogs for recall (coming when called both verbally and with remote E collar) for simple logistics and safety (dogs need to come when called); however, we do NOT advocate or support taking an aggressive dog off leash for "fun situations." If a dog has ever shown any aggressive tendencies towards people or other animals then that particular dog should never be off leash in any type of public settings.
"Balanced Training - Balanced Dogs"