Whenever I tell new owners my puppies never walk off lead for the first six months of their life I can see the pity in their eyes. My pups do get to run around but only when they are playing with me otherwise they walk on their lead.
Most owners canít wait to turn their new puppy loose in the park, forest or some other dog friendly location. The naive little puppy usually comes back when called until it gains confidence and learns to chase other dogs, birds, squirrels and rabbits or run off on some interesting scent.
Once puppy discovers how much fun he can have without his owner heíll have no incentive to come back. Why would he? You may be able to tempt him back with a titbit but unless heís really hungry chances are heíll ignore you.
I spend the first six months teaching my pups how to walk correctly on lead at my left hand side. Providing Iím totally consistent my dog will automatically slot into this position when I remove the lead.
Little by little I allow him to walk OFF lead by my left hand side until it becomes his lifelong habit. Initially his off lead walks are kept short as it demands all his concentration but as he matures I stretch them out until he doesnít even have to think about it.
Most pet dogs spend their first six months off the lead and the rest of their lives on it. Why not do it the other way around?