Jump to content

No Judgments... Question About Off-Leash Hiking


Recommended Posts

Last night, I took Henry and Truman to the lake. They walk at different paces, and as usual, they kept crossing their leashes. After fixing their leashes about a half dozen times, (gasp!) I made the decison to let Henry off his leash.

 

This is the first time I've ever ventured to try this with him. Here's the bottom line. Henry has been with me for over three years. His recall is excellent. His prey drive is minimal. We have worked extensively on obedience training, and he's both CGC/TDI certified. I wanted to see if I could trust him, and to no surprise, he did marvelously. He stayed by my side the entire time. Anytime he got too far behind for my liking, I just said his name, and he trotted back to the heel position. A few people passed by us (runners, other dogs and their owners), and Henry showed zero interest. At the end of the hike, I put Truman on a long-line (Henry still off-leash), and let them both splash around in the lake. They had such a great time.

 

I know many of you hike off-leash with your hounds (Krissy, WhiteWave... I hope you guys can chime in here). I just want to know... how did you know they were ready? And how long before you stopped feeling like a nervous wreck? By the way, I'm just talking about Henry, not Truman because I know for certain he can't be trusted yet. But if I continue to allow Henry to hike off-leash, are there any precautions I should take? I carry their recall whistle for emergencies anyway. But is there any type of other training I should consider? Am I overthinking this?

Edited by a_daerr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 167
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I remember about 17 years ago at my Uncle's funeral the minister talking about his dogs, greyhounds. My Uncle loved dogs. He was telling us how he takes them for walks in the woods off leash. Even back then, years and years before I got my first hound I knew this was not a good thing to do. I should have talked to him about it but I didn't.

A while later my Aunt called all upset. One of the greyhounds had chased a deer they came across and was hit by a car and killed. The hounds have never chased anything before.

It only takes one time for tragedy to strike. Is it really worth taking a chance?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tried to PM you with a long message and got a note that you couldn't receive any new messages <_<

 

Basically, you're going to get stories about "the one time" and trusting your hound too much but it's your life and you need to do what you are comfortable with and can live with.

 

Sounds like the pups had a great time!

Edited by sarabz

Dave (GLS DeviousDavid) - 6/27/18
Gracie (AMF Saying Grace) - 10/21/12
Bella (KT Britta) - 4/29/05 to 2/13/20

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you are over-thinking. Henry sounds great!

 

I think once you've trained them, there comes a time when you have to trust it and try. Usually we have two people at this point, so one can let the hound off to run to the person who has walked ahead a little way, maybe fifty yards, with a treat. Obviously choose a safe location. You'll know pretty quickly if you're OK, and it really sounds as if Henry is, but I would never stop being vigilant.

 

Other dogs can be a problem, wildlife can be a problem, tethered horses here in England can be on the path and cause a problem.

 

Renie was really pretty much like Henry, but she was kicked one day when she ran up to another dog (only a short distance) and the owner got scared and thought she was going to attack her. Poor girl, she just ran off a little way and stood there, totally bewildered wondering what she did wrong. I made sure to call her close after that whenever a strange dog came in sight.


Oh, and the 'other training' you should consider is a quick response to the word 'WAIT!'. Having the ability to make them stop in their tracks and not move can be a life-saver for them.

GTAvatar-2015_zpsb0oqcimj.jpg

The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm very much NOT a fan of off leash for most dogs, most owners, most places. There are some exceptions but not many.

 

If you must do it, please don't do it around other dogs who are leashed. It's rude and causes problems for other people. Again with few exceptions (like 1 in 1,000,000), your dog is never as well behaved as you think s/he is.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I don't have any place that I consider safe to let my hounds off-leash while hiking (Chicago suburbs), but I do have a special recall that I have trained my hounds with:

 

A sports whistle (like the ones you hear in a football game). What I did to train my hounds was to have two people and small chunks of raw hotdog. Two people with whistles 5 feet apart. One blows the whistle, the hound will look since it is a loud sound, give chunk of hotdog. Repeat with each person, each time moving farther and farther away. We started this exercise in my back yard (75 feet wide), but had to move to a fenced dog park. When the dog realizes what is going on, they will start to anticipate and run to the other person, when this happens, change the order so they are recalling to the sound, not just the opposite person. Then when you get to move to a larger area (at least a football field) then add a visual sign (wave your arm while blowing the whistle). The reason for the visual que is two fold: 1) greyhounds are sighthounds and can see much farther than you and I. 2) when I played this game at a dog park the first time, my hounds ran to the closest human expecting the treat. When I added the waiving arm, they would run right through a crowd of people or dogs to get to the person waiving their arm above the head.

 

This I believe is probably one of the safer unique ways of teaching an emergency recall. Its easy and fun to teach.

 

Chad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Basically, you're going to get stories about "the one time" and trusting your hound too much but it's your life and you need to do what you are comfortable with and can live with.

 

That's why I prefaced it with "no judgments"! :)

 

To be honest, I don't even think Henry realized he was off leash. He never strayed within six feet of us, except when I let them splash around in the lake. Also, our lake is in a remote location surrounded by acres and acres of woods, so this is probably one of the only places that I consider "safe." There are calculated risks in just about everything you do... I take them to the dog park. Truman will be lure coursing in a few months (also not fenced). I get that they're greyhounds, but they're also still dogs. I'm willing to take certain risks to give them a higher quality of life.

I don't have any place that I consider safe to let my hounds off-leash while hiking (Chicago suburbs), but I do have a special recall that I have trained my hounds with:

 

A sports whistle (like the ones you hear in a football game).

 

Chad, this is exactly how they learned. Truman was never race trained, so we had an easier time with a whistle vs. squawker.

Edited by a_daerr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love, love, love off leash hiking my dogs.

 

I had Summit for almost exactly a year before I started off leashing him. We had done obedience and agility in the winter and summer. I had worked on his recall in fenced areas (our backyard, baseball diamonds, tennis courts. I had an lead that I used for hiking him that wrapped around my waist so I was hands free and gave him about 8 feet of space. But Summit stops and sniffs EVERYTHING and it's just not enjoyable to hike with a dog and you either have to keep stopping or I had to make him leave what he was sniffing to come with me which seemed to defeat the purpose of a hike... you know, a dog being a DOG! I was pretty confident in his recall and where we hiked was far from any sort of traffic and we usually didn't even run into other dogs. Summit also has zero (and I do mean ZERO) prey drive. I was hiking with a friend and I was just so fed up with having to stop with him or being distracted with talking to my friend and getting a jerk to my waist because he stopped suddenly and I didn't notice. So I took the leash off from around my waist and dropped it. He dragged the 10 foot leash the rest of the walk with no problems. After that I went out and bought a 20 foot training lead and he would drag that (from his harness, not a collar otherwise he stepped on it constantly). We practiced recall on the trails again and again. After a couple of months I stopped using the long line unless we went to a new trail that we were unfamiliar with. And now I just take him wherever I want with no leash of any sort.

 

Kili I started off leashing almost immediately to be honest. I had Summit to rely on for one thing, and getting her as a puppy we were working on recall right from the get go. Again, we hike in places where traffic is not an issue and I have never had a problem with her trying to chase anything. The biggest thing I watch out for is other dogs on the trails... but that's not a common occurence. She is extensively obedience trained and is starting agility in a couple of weeks.

 

Could my dogs ignore my recall? Yes. Have they? Honestly, yes. But that's why I choose not to offleash them in unsafe places. What you define as "safe" depends on how confident you are in their recall and their likelihood of chasing after something. The only time Summit "ignores" a recall is if he is just about to pee on something... then he will finish peeing and then come barreling back to me. I can call him off any dog from a full sprint. He has had rabbits run under his nose and never looked twice. So I'm more likely to call a place "safe" with him than with Kili who might at this point still ignore a recall to go see a dog. But places where we off leash are typically secluded hiking trails (conservation parks and the like) so it's really not an issue.

 

I have lost Summit all of ONCE since I started off leashing him... and it was my fault because I was chatting with a friend and didn't notice he got kind of left behind as we went by a fork in the trail. He got to the fork and didn't know which way we went so he went back to the truck. As soon as I realized he was missing I knew where he was. I hiked back to parking lot and found him standing beside the truck. When he saw me he happily joined me again and we all continued hiking again.

 

Ultimately it is your choice in terms of what you feel comfortable with. If you choose to off leash you can never slack on your recall practice (not that anyone should anyway). But it's so fun and free to just let your dog be a dog. Watching my guys run and play at the conservation puts the biggest smile on my face. I think the only thing the dogs and I enjoy more together is agility. :)

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

Like us on Facebook!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last night, I took Henry and Truman to the lake. They walk at different paces, and as usual, they kept crossing their leashes. After fixing their leashes about a half dozen times, (gasp!) I made the decison to let Henry off his leash.

 

This is the first time I've ever ventured to try this with him. Here's the bottom line. Henry has been with me for over three years. His recall is excellent. His prey drive is minimal. We have worked extensively on obedience training, and he's both CGC/TDI certified. I wanted to see if I could trust him, and to no surprise, he did marvelously. He stayed by my side the entire time. Anytime he got too far behind for my liking, I just said his name, and he trotted back to the heel position. A few people passed by us (runners, other dogs and their owners), and Henry showed zero interest. At the end of the hike, I put Truman on a long-line (Henry still off-leash), and let them both splash around in the lake. They had such a great time.

 

I know many of you hike off-leash with your hounds (Krissy, WhiteWave... I hope you guys can chime in here). I just want to know... how did you know they were ready? And how long before you stopped feeling like a nervous wreck? By the way, I'm just talking about Henry, not Truman because I know for certain he can't be trusted yet. But if I continue to allow Henry to hike off-leash, are there any precautions I should take? I carry their recall whistle for emergencies anyway. But is there any type of other training I should consider? Am I overthinking this?

 

After training recall for more than a year, in every possible fenced in place. Then I took her to a park where it's deep forest on one side, and lake on the other...she could only go forwards or backwards. I was nervous, but knew that she would come when called. Now that I've moved, there aren't many safe places...I only hiked with her in the winter, early mornings when no one else was out.

 

Practice, practice and practice that recall with HIGH value treats, and consider the locations, those are key.

Greyhound Collars : www.collartown.ca

 

Maggie (the human servant), with Miss Bella, racing name "A Star Blackieto"

13380965654_dba9a12b29.jpg
 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to walk Argos off leash on a daily basis in a wooded area. He did great, had excellent recall and zero prey drive. Bootsy has even less of a prey drive, but he has a strong "pee" drive - he will take off in an instant if he sees something he wants to pee on. And if that something happens to be across a 6 lane highway, so be it. So he's leashed.

 

Bottom line - you know your dogs. If you are comfortable, do it. If you aren't, don't.

gallery_15455_2907_595.jpg

Christie and Bootsy (Turt McGurt and Gil too)
Loving and missing Argos & Likky, forever and ever.
~Old age means realizing you will never own all the dogs you wanted to. ~

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Oh, and the 'other training' you should consider is a quick response to the word 'WAIT!'. Having the ability to make them stop in their tracks and not move can be a life-saver for them.

 

This is really useful. We walk on the Cross Canada Trail sometimes and it does open out to small roads periodically. Kili I call back to me and leash. Summit I will allow to walk to within about 10 metres of the road and give him his "wait" command. He stops and waits until I catch up and then I go out and check the road for cars before releasing him to the trail on the other side. Also useful if we see approaching dogs or people. Or just if he gets too far ahead of me.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

Like us on Facebook!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I adopted Bailey, back in 1995, I didn't know anything about greyhounds, and to be honest I wasn't given much information when I adopted her. I used to take her hiking off leash daily. She was really good. She would often stop and look back to see where I was and really never got very far ahead of me. She never approached other people or dogs...she just wanted to do her own sniffing and moseying along. However, she did and would take off after rabbits, sometimes running completely out of my sight, which would freak me out. There would be no stopping her once she spotted something...she wouldn't even know who I was any more. And she didn't come back for me...basically, she would wait for me to catch up to her. I will also tell you that she injured herself quite a few times. Sore wrists, cuts, scrapes, punctures...lots of vet visits. I look back at pictures of her and she often has vet wrap on her somewhere. After finding greytalk, I realized that she wasn't supposed to be off leash. I felt like I really couldn't change at that point. She'd had so much freedom for a very long time...it would be like making an outdoor cat an indoor cat. Anyway, Bailey loved her life. She had some amazing times and there were quite a few heart attacks for me.

When I got Holly, I never let her off leash. The biggest difference was vet bills. Holly never got hurt. Never needed the vet except for yearly exams/dentals. She also was a very happy dog. She wanted her two walks a day and was perfectly content with that.

Now, I have a lab. She gets to go off leash once in a while, when hiking. She is crazy and zooms all over the place. I don't think she realizes that there is even a path. She chases rabbits way the heck out in the brush. The difference is that she has nice, thick skin and has had no injuries. She is a sturdy girl. I also have a GPS collar on her in case she gets too carried away. I am also thinking about getting her a rattlesnake vaccine.

I will never let another greyhound off leash in a non-fenced area...except perhaps a secluded beach.

gallery_2175_3047_5054.jpg

 

Michelle...forever missing her girls, Holly 5/22/99-9/13/10 and Bailey 8/1/93-7/11/05

Religion is the smile on a dog...Edie Brickell

Wag more, bark less :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's your dog, and as long as you understand the risks and your liability, he is legally your property and yours to do with what you choose.

 

My last dog was often off leash. He was not a sighthound, and I got him when he was a puppy. It was not an issue.

 

I miss being able to play fetch in the snow with the dog (where the dog exercises, and I get to just stand there!).

 

You know full well you opened a can of worms, and eventually someone is going to flame the you-know-what out of you.

 

But it won't be me.


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OH another training tool I used, I use to hide on Bella. The first time I did it was in a huge fenced dog park, I just hid on her when she wasn't looking...and when she noticed I was gone, she ran around looking for me. I think this helps because after that she would look to see where I was every couple of minutes, making sure I was still there.

Greyhound Collars : www.collartown.ca

 

Maggie (the human servant), with Miss Bella, racing name "A Star Blackieto"

13380965654_dba9a12b29.jpg
 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest PiagetsMom

I'm very much NOT a fan of off leash for most dogs, most owners, most places. There are some exceptions but not many.

 

If you must do it, please don't do it around other dogs who are leashed. It's rude and causes problems for other people. Again with few exceptions (like 1 in 1,000,000), your dog is never as well behaved as you think s/he is.

 

 

This is my issue with it as well. If you're off hiking somewhere secluded where that's not an issue, that's one thing. If you're hiking amongst other people with leashed dogs, that's another.

 

And, I always feel that yes, as Batmom said, there are those very few dogs who are exceptions, but I've found that other people see this, think, "Hey, that's a great idea - I'll do that with my dog!", even though their dog doesn't fit into that "exception" category.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Scarter55

We don't off leash Lady, and I'm not sure if we will. But we will base that decision on how she behaves when she is a more mature adult. This summer I'm taking her to a couple really large dog parks (10+ acres) that are fully enclosed. That will be a big test since she will be able to get out of sight of me for the first time. I'm training her with a squawker in anticipation of that. But I really like the whistle training method that was mentioned!

 

Like everyone said, the choice is yours and you are well aware of the consequences should something go wrong. Every dog, owner, situation is different. I think it would be really beneficial to always start the walks/hikes with a leash and subtly take it off. There is no reason for him to know he doesn't have a leash on. He'll probably act better than if you let him bound freely right out of the house/car.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm envious of people who have dogs that they trust enough to let off leash in appropriate areas. Nobody can walk in your shoes with your dogs and know what you know about them. If I tried off leash with Annie I'd not be concerned about her prey drive or generally running off *unless* we ran into people. She loves people, and I know that she'd take off with tail flying to greet someone because she thinks everybody wants to love on her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree about it's your dog, your choice however I will say that I don't believe any Greyhound will obey recall 100% if they see something that truly interests them. That may not be a big deal in an area that has no cars, no other dogs, etc. The worst that can happen is you have a lost Grey and it hopefully will only be 'lost' for a short time, again your own risk (and your pups). I miss having a pup that will walk loose with me on my property (82 acres) but I just cannot and will not risk that with a Grey. My angel Dalmatian, angel German Short-Haired Pointer, no problems they knew to come back. Most depends on your Grey's personality, the amount of training you have done and luck (IMHO). Sounds like Henry is one of those Greys that fits the category and you have done a lot of work with him so I think you take it slow and prepare for the worst if it were to happen, i.e. know your location inside/out, know where Henry may run to if possible, have something to get him back that works 999.9% of the time (squawker, treats, etc).

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree with Batmom and PiagetsMom.

 

Preparation can be done for every situation. Except for the one situation where the dog doesn't recall. If you've participated in even one greyhound Amber Alert, you know that heart-in-your-throat feeling that doesn't leave until the dog is captured (if it is). For me, off-lead is just not worth the risk.

Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees:  Punkin. Annie Oooh M. 

Angels: Pal :heart. Segugio. Sorella (TPGIT). LadyBug. Zeke-aroni. MiMi Sizzle Pants. Gracie. Seamie :heart:brokenheart. (Foster)Sweet. Andy. PaddyALVIN!Mayhem. Bosco. Bruno. Dottie B. Trevor Double-Heart. Bea. Cletus, KLTO. Aiden.

:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So nice to see no flames. I am too afraid to let Samlur off leash. He loves flying things, be it butterflies, birds, or airplanes.

Also want to add, we seem to have a lot of off leash dogs in our town, even in parks where they are to be leased. It is a big worry for me. I wont even go to one park anymore as I am worried Samlur might get attacked. Seems as if animal control is so lax around here. GRRR

"Then God sent the Greyhound to live among man and remember. And when the day comes God will call the Greyhound to give Testament, and God will pass judgment on man."

Persian Proverb

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never let my dogs off-leash. Just didn't want to take a chance. BUT, I know of a couple who had a greyhound, and did let him off leash all the time. He always stayed right beside them, or around their house---until the one time my friend walked by with her two greyhounds. Their dog started following her and her dogs, and after about a block she turned around and took him home.

 

I suppose in the right area, under the right circumstances, with the right dog, it might be OK--but I don't have a lot of dog experience (only ever had the four greyhounds), so I doubt I would do it.

But I'm not gonna flame someone who does. :)

 

AND, I totally agree with not letting a dog off-leash around other dogs. That was always a pet peeve of mine when walking my dogs (usually three at a time): off leash dogs.

Edited by rascalsmom

Phoebe (Belle's Sweetpea) adopted 9/2/13.

Jack (BTR Captain Jack) 9/28/05--11/2/12
Always missing Buddy, Ruby, and Rascal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We did the "hide and seek" thing with our Greyhounds too and we also carried some yummy treats during walks. And as soon as we saw people (with or without dogs) coming we would leash our dogs to avoid problems.

 

Looks like Henry did great! :)

Anne, Sasha & Tapas. Spriet (2002-2015), Tibbie (2000-2015) and Gunda (1996-2009)

www.sighthoundgoodies.com

anne_sas3gt_bbuveb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Jacks_Human

Jack gets off-leash walks under special circumstances--ie, in the middle of winter, when the small furry critters are hibernating, and in areas far from the road. That said, he has excellent recall, never goes too far (and will stop and wait for me if I fall too far behind), and has been trained to wait at kerbs for my release command. Also the park where I take him has a very large fenced area by the river, so even though he's off leash in a fairly big space, he can't run off anywhere dangerous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also wanted to mention that your dog will get braver and you will become more complacent. When you go for 30 hikes with nothing happening, it's hard to remember that something still could.

gallery_2175_3047_5054.jpg

 

Michelle...forever missing her girls, Holly 5/22/99-9/13/10 and Bailey 8/1/93-7/11/05

Religion is the smile on a dog...Edie Brickell

Wag more, bark less :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...