When my son heard me talking about the movie Django Unchained, set to premiere around Christmas this year, he said he wanted to take a video of our black lab Django and show her running around our yard without a leash.
That would be our version of Django Unchained because she is never, ever leash-less in public.
I don’t think I’d ever get to the point where I’d be comfortable with her off a leash. As it is now, she is wild on a leash. Although she’ll soon be two years old, she is one spirited pup and gets overly excited at other dogs, squirrels, birds… you name it.
However, over at Vetstreet, Mikkel Becker explains that dogs love to be off a leash and run around freely. Since some dogs were bred to run and chase, running is basically in their blood. Other breeds don’t mind staying close to their owners. As with many other things, you’ve got to know your dog before you consider letting him run about freely.
As far as training goes, there are certain non-negotiable commands your dog must not only understand, but adhere to in every circumstance, including when excited. They are heel, stay, and coming when called. Start off first by practicing these commands in a closed off area until they are completely trained.
Once they are trained, start with an area where they will not get hurt if they don’t back to you right away and make sure you are not close to any busy streets. A large dog run would be a great place to practice this, since it’s also an area full of other distractions. Of course, it also helps to have your dog microchipped and collared with identifying information, should she get lost.
It takes a lot of work, but if you think your dog is one of those who would listen when unleashed and you are willing to invest the time and effort into training, it may be a definite possibility. But be sure to pay attention to your local laws: you could get hit with a fine if being off a leash is illegal in your area.
I admit, I’m not there yet. Furthermore, I’m not sure Django will ever be calm enough to listen without the use of a leash.
Do you take your dogs on walks without a leash? How long did you train him before you let him loose?
Image: A. Sullivan
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