Jump to content

How Long Before It's "safe" To Let Them Off Their Lead?


Guest Marie_Imbrium
 Share

Recommended Posts

Guest Marie_Imbrium

We've only had Deacon for 3 weeks or so, and although he's a very biddable, amiable dog, I'm unsure as to whether I'd want to let him off his lead to run around. We don't have a great yard for him to run around in, but we live on the cliffs above a beach, which is VERY dog-friendly.

 

So every day I take him down there and we interact with dogs all over the place. All of the other dogs are off their leashes and running around, and Deacon just goes NUTS wanting to jump around with them and run, but I'm terrified that he'll start running and never stop.

 

So I guess my question is 2-fold:

1 - is it ever safe to let a greyhound off-leash? and

2- what would be the best way to train a greyhound to have excellent recall so he comes back to me if I call him?

 

(a secondary problem is that some days the surf booms so loudly I'm not sure I could shout loud enough for him to hear me, if I wanted to call him back to me).

 

Any thoughts? Suggestions? shooting me down b/c it's a crazy idea? I just want to do what's best for him, and he's SO eager to run...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 126
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Guest Marie_Imbrium

As far as I've been able to search around, there isn't a fenced-in dog park anywhere near here. People in this part of the UK seem very friendly and casual about their dogs, and let them romp and play all over the place (sidewalks, Metros, buses, etc...). It's nice, and I want Deacon to be able to do that too, but I also don't want him to be lost or a statistic somewhere.

 

I'll look into clicker training (I think that's what you were referring to?). It way be louder than I am over the sound of the surf.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Marie_Imbrium

I am one of those who would say never.

 

Ok, fair enough. So you'd recommend an enclosed area where they can run around leash-free (large yard, fenced-in dog park, etc)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as I've been able to search around, there isn't a fenced-in dog park anywhere near here. People in this part of the UK seem very friendly and casual about their dogs, and let them romp and play all over the place (sidewalks, Metros, buses, etc...). It's nice, and I want Deacon to be able to do that too, but I also don't want him to be lost or a statistic somewhere.

 

I'll look into clicker training (I think that's what you were referring to?). It way be louder than I am over the sound of the surf.

A clicker is just a way of marking the behavior you want from your dog. So when the dog does something you like, you click and hten follow up with the treat. The dog learns through association that the click means food is coming. It's a way to make up for the fact that we as humans are often slow in our treat delivery. It won't help you in the way that you're thinking.

 

If you're worried about the sound of the surf, I would train your dog to come to you in response to a whistle that you know he will be able to hear. Most people on here will tell you it's a terrible idea to let a greyhound off lead and you're a terrible person for even considering it. :P I think the issue is not black and white, but the bottom line is I would only consider it for dogs that have relatively low prey drives, are very social with ALL other dogs (including small white fluffies) if you're going to be doing this around other dogs, and if the dog is trained to come when called no matter what the distraction. The last part is the tricky one as it takes a lot of time and training to really have that type of control and most people aren't willing to put in the work. Just because your dog comes 75% of hte time when you call him because those are times when he's not that distracted and/or wants to be with you does not mean you're dog is properly recall trained. Case in point (this happens a lot), my neighbor comes out the other day and his dog comes charging up to my (on leash) dog. Thankfully I only had one dog with me and she's very social so it wasn't an issue. The whole time she's charging up to us and trying to play with my dog he's calling her name repeatedly. When he gets to me he says, "I was trying to be nice and let her be able to run around off leash. She's usually so good when I call her". Yeah, that's because when you call her most of the time, there isn't a dog she's never met before that is SO exciting and distracting. :rolleyes:

 

Anyway, bit of a digression there. Point is, it takes a lot of work to train to that level of distraction and I don't think it's fair to off lead a dog unless you have control of it, as if you had the leash on. Finding a training class is a good start, but it will take a lot more than that. The school where I teach offers a clinic focusing solely on recalls so finding something like that would be good. Otherwise, continue into higher levels of classes that add increasing distraction when you practice recalls. Ask in advance whether that's something that will be covered much in the classes if that's your focus. Even if you never off lead her in this situation, it makes it that much more likely that you'll be able to get her back should she ever get loose.

 

Sorry, change all my she's to he's. ;)

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a number of people in the UK that have worked with their hounds are able to do many things like walking and hiking off lead, but the GH has a strong recall.

 

You could use a 30 foot lead and have him walk away and call him back. You can reel him in so he gets the idea. Repeat and repeat. I am sure that others from the UK will offer better advice.

groupwindia-greytalk2.jpg

The handsome boy Brady, mid-morning nap. The sun, the sun feels so, so, so good.

I can't keep my eyes open ... ... Retirement agrees ...

... and the Diva Ms India, 2001 - 10/16/2009 ....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest sireltonsmom

Deacon is a trained to run sighthound. He is not trained to stop or come to you. His focus can be up to a mile away which you can't even see. Unless you can run ca. 45 mph, you won't catch him. If you get him trained, he MIGHT come to you. I think you have to decide if off leash is important enough to risk him running away or getting hit. Most of us don't want to take that risk. A fenced in area is good. Neither of my greys care about running. A nice walk together is fine with them. So, if you're thinking they have to run, likely not. Plus, you don't want your crazy neighbor to have a y reason to complain LOL.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Marie_Imbrium

Ok, some excellent advice here, and I didn't mean to open a can of worms, sorry about that! :)

 

I think i'll do recall training with Deacon (from a professional) on the off-chance that he ever DID get away from me. I don't want to take the chance that it was my error that caused him to get lost or hurt, however, so he'll stay on the lead and we'll just have to jog a bit until I can find him a fenced-in park to run in.

 

Of course, he doesn't NEED to run, but he really enjoys when my husband sprints around with him (but frankly, a 35 yr old chugging along cannot keep up with a greyhound, so Deacon hardly breaks a sweat :D )

 

Thanks, everyone. I enjoy this forum, some good civil discourse here, combined with LOTS of knowledge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 weeks is much too soon, especially on a busy beach full of other dogs. Also, you say he gets quite excited at the other dogs running around and wants to play, but before you unleash him it would be a good to get a better idea of his play style. Some greys run other dogs down really hard and really fast in a manner that can be quite intimidating. Especially for non - greyhounds, smaller dogs etc.

 

If you do get him to a stage in a few or several months time when you guage he could go off, choose the place carefully. Safe, away from traffic, no bunnies or deer, a beach is usually a good option but maybe at first v v early in the morning in summer when there are few other dogs around. And just for a few minutes, build it up gradually and in my experience don't assume he is going to play 'nicely' with every dog, it can take time for them to be well mannered around other breeds. Take your cues from how he behaves on leash.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The UK greyhound scene is different, we still care and worry though. I'd wait at least 6 weeks and aim to have the first run one early morning in an empty sports field with fenced edges that have no barbed wire. You can train the dog earlier on a long leash to run between 2 people get treats first. This then becomes a run off leash from one person to the other and round and back a couple of times. Peggy did a series of figure of 8's on that first run and got amazingly praised for coming back for a treat.

Peggy wasn't allowed loose on the beach for quite a while as it goes on forever and has wave noise (you mentioned). But once I was sure that she would do circles of less than 100 yards she was allowed. See:

 

I can't stress enough the value of having 2 people. If there's just one person perhaps try to talk to an equine establishment to see if you could use one of their big yards or paddocks out of hours. There's less risk too if you go with someone who also has greyhounds which have learned to behave themseleves; in that case all must be muzzled. Lastly, there is no blame in not letting off leash in the open/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Marie_Imbrium

The UK greyhound scene is different, we still care and worry though. I'd wait at least 6 weeks and aim to have the first run one early morning in an empty sports field with fenced edges that have no barbed wire. You can train the dog earlier on a long leash to run between 2 people get treats first. This then becomes a run off leash from one person to the other and round and back a couple of times. Peggy did a series of figure of 8's on that first run and got amazingly praised for coming back for a treat.

Peggy wasn't allowed loose on the beach for quite a while as it goes on forever and has wave noise (you mentioned). But once I was sure that she would do circles of less than 100 yards she was allowed. See:

 

I can't stress enough the value of having 2 people. If there's just one person perhaps try to talk to an equine establishment to see if you could use one of their big yards or paddocks out of hours. There's less risk too if you go with someone who also has greyhounds which have learned to behave themseleves; in that case all must be muzzled. Lastly, there is no blame in not letting off leash in the open/

 

 

OH, that video was beautiful!! I know it's WAY early days yet, I'm just looking toward the future and wondering what we can do now to help Deacon with his training. Some excellent advice here, and yes, there's a stable within walking distance of me! Maybe I can rent their training paddock for an hour a week or so (perhaps in exchange for some free horse grooming or poop-shoveling, LOL)!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Ok, fair enough. So you'd recommend an enclosed area where they can run around leash-free (large yard, fenced-in dog park, etc)?

 

A large school yard, perhaps. A grey play date with other hounds, maybe from your group. I am not a fan of mixed breed and sizes dog parks. Too many accidents have been listed here. Maybe I am just a nervous Nelly.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin in Lower Delaware
Angels Brandy, John E, American Idol, Paul, Fuzzy and Shine
Handcrafted Greyhound and Custom Clocks http://www.houndtime.com
Zoom Doggies-Racing Coats for Racing Greyhounds

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I off leash both my dogs all the time. And I'm in North America where that is the most terrible, horrible, taboo thing you could ever possibly do. Ever.

 

Understand this. A greyhound is a dog first, and a greyhound second. They are trainable in the same way that any other dog is trainable. They have their own challenges, just like every breed has their own challenges. And each individual has different strengths and limitations... just like an individual of any other breed has strengths and limitations. Most DOGS should not be off leash, because their owners haven't put in the time and effort to train them appropriately. And some DOGS should never be off leash because even with a lot of work they will never have a reliable recall for a variety of reasons (strong prey drive being one of the biggest).

 

Understand this too. No dog will ever have a 100% recall. It doesn't exist. They are dogs and they have a mind of their own no matter how well trained. Top level obedience dogs have disobeyed recalls. So always evaluate the situation and decide if it is safe enough in the event that your dog DOES ignore its recall.

 

I do not off leash my dogs next to busy roads because that's dumb, even with the best trained dog. And I know her limitations where she is at risk of ignoring a recall and I try not to put her in those situations unless I am specifically working on them. Kili would be liable to want to ignore her recall for another dog or to chase a rabbit. I don't let her off leash in places where we are likely to see rabbits, and only in places where we might see other dogs if I won't likely have to recall her (or I'm working on strengthening her recall around other dogs). Lots of people will say I'm a terrible owner. But the benefits my dogs get from being able to run off leash is immense compared to the calculated risks. Kili jogs off leash with me, and she also runs with me when I go mountain biking. Her fitness and condition are prime. The enjoyment and stimulation she gets from it are also well worthwhile. She's also an agility dog so she will always, always, always be in situations where she is off leash in unenclosed areas. My experience is that with a good recall and regular off leash time, this whole idea of "he'll run and just never stop" is pretty much laughable. Other than prey drive (which is only applicable to Kili), my dogs are so used to being off leash that they don't get far from me. They also don't do zoomies and play "catch me if you can" if they end up off leash accidentally. My rate of greyhound induced heart attacks has become pretty much zero. But then, I can send Kili to chase a bird and call her off halfway (not sure we'll ever get there with rabbits).

 

Now, if you don't want to put in the time and effort that is required, or it turns out that your dog is never going to be a good candidate... that's a very respectable and responsible decision. But it is still so important to have a recall. Again... greyhound heart attack rate does not need to go through the roof every time a door opens, or a gate is left open, or a dog slips its collar.

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

It depends on the dog. I live in an area populated by all rabbits and deers which live in Germany, I think. We encounter those folks on nearly every walk. Colin can walk of leash because he is not interested in hunting, he never raced. He just wants to interact with the other dogs. And he is a terrible snob, too. He would never leave the path because he hates to get dirty. Strange greyhound, he is.

The other two are never off leash. The start screaming and barking whenever they see one of those folks mentioned above. Both were very succesfull racer in their time.

With Col we used the 2 people tactic mentioned above. It helps the bonding. With the others we use a friend's (she breeds horses) indoor paddock to stretch some legs.

Sorry for butchering the english language. I try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

 

Nadine with Paddy (Zippy Mullane), Saoirse (Lizzie Be Nice), Abu (Cillowen Abu) and bridge angels Colin (Dessies Hero) and Andy (Riot Officer).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulations on your recent arrival. My mum has had a couple of greyhounds who she regularly lets off the leash, they have a wander will come back (when they're ready rather than when she asks them to) she lives in a really rural area so it's very different to a situation to the city where I live where there are lots of distractions close by and potentially cars and roads etc. and she is quite relaxed about doing this. Saying that, both of these hounds were 'very' failed racers - one had an almost negative prey-drive (I just found an old video of her being chased by a chicken), and the other never raced - I'm not sure if this is a factor in their behaviour but when I walk with them it does seem like the novelty of being off-leash has worn off somewhat and they stick pretty close by,

 

There was a large 'mostly' enclosed field that I used to walk my grey in and, in retrospect quite naively, we had a routine that we'd go in and I'd let him off and he'd just trot along beside me. I'd been doing this for 6 months when when on one walk someone started sort of hammering in a nearby garden and my hound turned round and headed for home faster than I could catch him. I managed to catch up with him eventually but he was quite single minded and heading towards a road. I've stopped letting him off the lead at all here now! This wasn't supposed to be a scare-story, just describing a situation that I thought I was in control of and I got a horrible shock. My other hound is very nervous so I'd always worry that something would spook her and she'd head for the hills.

I do have a work colleague who has recently got a greyhound and she lets it off the leash all the time and says he's pretty well behaved. I also went to a greyhound gathering recently where there were hundreds of hounds and a couple of 'show offs' who walked to heel amazingly with no leash.

 

On another note - where are you located - might there be somewhere you could find? I've seen some Facebook groups which discuss fields/space for hire. Mine get to run about every couple of weeks in a field and I've recently found a local place that has a fully fenced in area that they rent out by the 1/2 hour at pretty reasonable rates.

 

There are some big differences of opinion here, there are lots of different people with different hounds in very different situations but I agree that recall training is great to do anyway. Good luck with it all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You should know that most groups in the US require adopters to agree to never let their hounds off leash in an unfenced area, so there are a lot of people here who will say "never, no exceptions ". Just wanted to throw that out since I don't remember seeing it specifically mentioned. That's not to say you should disregard the people saying never, just know part of where it comes from. We've had it hammered in that it is not something we can ever, ever do because of the nature of sighthounds.

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

Guest Lillypad

I am in the "never" club too. We have an excellent re-call, we have been working on it for years. To me, it is just too risky, for any breed of dog. When they are gone.. they are gone, and I would have a lot of explaining to do, to a lot of people. I plan to save myself the embarrassment.. LOL But I also long for the liberty off-leash would provide. When I am tempted, I always think of this article. http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org/advice/general_advice/trust_a_deadly_disease.shtml.

 

Is there a baseball diamond you could use. A group of us get together here and use one. We tether snow fencing across the openings. It is safe and reassuring. Is there a greyhound group that you could join, more than likely they have a secure spot for exercising your hound.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152381714792602&set=pcb.557235824404545&type=1&theater

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest DarkHorse

We're in the camp of "never" too. We thought we had good recall with Dexter, as he always came when called in our fenced yard and at the dog park, and then a visitor accidentally let him slip out the side door. He spent five minutes racing around the intersection of two four-lane roads, nearly getting hit a few times, before he was grabbed by someone whose dog he stopped to say hi to. I freaked out about people coming in and out that door for a good few months afterwards.

 

Luckily, we've moved since then and the only door outside that doesn't lead to the fenced yard is the "pet lock", an enclosed front porch with a door on either end, so there's less chance a visitor will let one of the dogs (or cats) out. But that experience was enough for me to never want to let one of my dogs off-leash when not fenced in. We don't really need to - we've got a fair-sized yard and if they really need some leg-stretching, a nearby dog park is pretty much dead after 7pm on weeknights, so we can go there and not even worry about other dogs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest GreyOrchard

I have been running a greyhound sanctuary in Ireland for more than 10 years and I have been very hands on with the dogs. Until recently I always took my dogs out running in small groups in vast open fields and never lost a dog - however, I was very strategic about it and it took a lot of hard work and forethought. I never ever lost a dog or had to go find one. Although I recently wrote a book about greyhounds as pets and have an entire chapter JUST on recall for off-leash time, I will give it to you in a nutshell here:

 

1) being off-leash is a privilege that you greyhound earns in a series of careful stages; it is not something you do all at once

 

2) start off with long-leashing (tracker leashing) your hound when in wide open areas; this is so that he gets some sense of freedom, but always staying with you...this can become his habit - do it in the same places all the time...this is so that when you DO begin to let him off leash, he knows the area, there are no surprises and he knows the routine. Great if you have a friend with you who has a dog who is reliable off leash.

 

3) at the same time you start long-leashing on walks, then at home start working on "bidding" - calling your dog to you by name and clapping you thigh when the dog is near you; from there, you can "graduate" up to "beckoning" - calling your dog to you by name and clapping you thigh when the dog is out of sight - maybe in the next room, or even further, such as out in the back yard and you are in the house. In both instances, when your dog does come to you, clap/pet his shoulder and back instead of your thigh...this will come in handy later

 

4) once your dog has bidding and beckoning well established, you are ready to stat experimenting with off-leash time step by step: at first, always at the end of long and tiring walk. Now, the problem here is that there are so many variations in how you might do this that it would take me an hour to write it all. But I think you get the picture....the first few times only a few minutes, calling his name and slapping your thigh or clapping your hands when you want him to come to you. NEVER start calling your greyhound in a panic the moment you let him off leash! Give him the chance to sniff around. You can also practice by letting him off leash in a very large enclosed field where he thinks he is totally loose.

 

Keep in mind that some will be better than others and the trick is to figure out where your greyhound's own boundaries are. You might find that he is only reliable at the end of a long walk on a certain secluded beach; someone else might find their greyhound is good off leash anywhere BUT once he is off leash for more than 20 minutes, he gets "wandery" and loses focus...someone else might find their geyhound is great off leash only around other dogs or a particular dog. Find out your dog's limitations.

 

Last - if you can't do the off leash training slowly and methodically, then don't bother at all. Even centuries ago the old books and treatises on greyhounds talked about how to train them for being off leash....which they were all the time....and the ones who always came back, who obeyed the huntsman's horn, were the ones our greyhounds today are descended from. They were deliberately bred to be biddable. If we approach off-leash training carefully, we can bring that "biddability" out in them.

 

Because I am a new member, I cannot post photos. When I am allowed, I will be glad to post photos of the dogs running in vast open fields.

 

It's not that THEY are "so bad" at recall, but that we have to be better at knowing how to teach it to them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Marie_Imbrium

Again, thank you very much everyone. I can see that it's a topic for much discussion, and that is good. I very much enjoy reading everyone's views and rationales for their stand on the subject.

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...