It is a dream for many dog owners to master off-leash dog walking. However, whether you should take your dogs on off-leash or on-leash walks is up for discussion. Some people also have concerns about not using the leash and simply allowing dogs to roam free. Just because a single dog can go off-leash doesn’t mean the other dogs could too. If you’re a dog owner or planning to be one, check out this list of advantages and disadvantages of off-leash walking to help you determine whether you and your dog are ready to do this or not.
Advantages of Off-Leash Dog Walking
Encourage to explore
Dogs are adventurers at heart, sniffing and discovering everything they see. Being off-leash gives them plenty of time to explore. They are naturally able to interact with the environment in their own time. It allows them to run, sprint, play, jump, and roll as much as they can. They can also investigate or follow a scent, which releases dopamine and serotonin. As a result, your dog will be happier and more content.
Promote good behaviour
No matter the breed, dogs have inherent behaviours. Being off-leash gives your dog the freedom to move at its own pace without too many restrictions. Naturally, they will try to take advantage of this, which is why proper training is a must. Additionally, being off-leash requires a more rigorous training regimen compared to being on-leash; making dogs more disciplined.
In short, this isn’t an easy task for most dog owners. For those hesitant about training their pets, you can leave them at trusted local puppy daycare centres where they can get professional care and training experience.
Improves physical and mental well-being
Exercise is key in optimizing your dog’s health. They need to strengthen their legs, move around, and breathe fresh air. Walks are often the best way for dogs to keep themselves fit. Off-leash dog walking stimulates the mind and the body. It allows your dog to burn off extra energy that has accumulated. Unspent energy will stress out your dog, which can lead to depression or becoming irritable. Without the restraints of a leash, it develops the dog’s brain to make independent decisions and respond positively to stimuli.
Improve dog’s ability to follow commands
Dogs must have the required training before attempting to get them off the leash. Training and preparing your dogs to go off-leash allows for fewer incidents and helps avoid risky situations. To accomplish this, your dog must be trained to listen to voice commands and follow directions. This holds true in other situations as well because your dog will learn when to respond to your calls. Once properly trained, you might be able to notice some improvements in your dog’s lifestyle and not just when they are out and about. Of course, you must stay committed, as off-leash training requires time and patience. Keep in mind that you can always ask local doggy daycare clinics in case you need professional assistance with training your dog.
Develop dog’s sense of danger
Having a sense of freedom will give them more experience and this includes the sense of danger. The protection of a home and a leash will negatively affect their natural instincts. This is one of the reasons why wildlife experts cannot permit a tamed animal to be released into the wild. The animal will not be able to survive.
Running around will allow a dog to pick up any potential scents of surrounding creatures. Your walk through the woods will be safer if you have a dog because they may easily frighten other animals away with their bark and scent. The dog will also at least warn you of any potential dangers, so you may better prepare yourself or run away as quickly as you can if it is unable to scare the other animals away.
Disadvantages of Off-Leash Dog Walking
Possible issues with other dogs Regrettably, some dogs do not get along. It is essential to take all necessary precautions to keep a dog away from other dogs (or animals) that might try to act aggressively toward them when they're off-leash. Or, it might be the other way around and your dog might try to bite other dogs when they feel threatened or jealous.
Some people are afraid of dogs
Cynophobia, or fear of dogs, exists. When out for a walk, you might encounter people who are afraid of dogs and seeing dogs that are not leashed or trying to approach them might make them uncomfortable and anxious, which can cause awkward situations or even a confrontation.
Your dog might get hurt
When out for a walk with your dogs, there are surely times when things don’t go as planned. Dogs can easily get distracted and wander off instantly once they notice something. This is especially true during off-leash pack walks because your dog can be affected by the mood of the pack. Normally, with on-leash pack walks, you gain their attention and immediately take charge of the situation, diverting their attention away from the thing they get fixated on. However, with the leash off, it gets more difficult to get their attention as it is much easier for them to go astray and leave your sight. And, without you noticing, your dog might stumble upon something that can hurt them.
Dogs can panic in certain situations
While training your dog, choosing a suitable environment must be taken into account. After all, being in a city will be considerably different from being in a residential, suburban community. Will your dog frequently hear honking from cars? Alternatively, another wild animal can appear and put your dog in a panic. All of these things can potentially be one of the causes for your dog to act nervous or panic; causing it to react instinctively and immediately flee the area. It is advisable to coordinate with your chosen dog daycare clinic to decide on the different aspects of your dog’s training regimen for being calm.
Safety is not assured
Unfortunately, you have little control over the environment when your dog is not on a leash. You can do your best to train them to answer your calls. However, there is no assurance that all will always be well with your dog’s off-leash walks. Even professional dog walkers have no guarantee that there will be no slip-ups, which is especially heightened with the lack of a leash.
Dog Behaviours Not Recommended for Off-Leash
Off-leash walking is not recommended for some dogs. The following behaviours indicate that the dog is not suitable for off-leash activities:
Aggression against humans or other canines
Predatory behaviour that is strong and uncontrollable
A strong, refractory need to track scents
While walking your dog off-leash has many advantages, it is critical to evaluate key factors before making the decision. Are your dogs properly off-leash trained? Are they aggressive towards humans and other dogs? Should you avail of dog walking services or should you be the one accompanying them on walks? Which environment are your dogs most comfortable with? These are just some of the aspects you need to take into consideration to avoid harming your dogs and the people around them as much as possible. After all, walks are activities meant to be enjoyed. It would only defeat the purpose if you went on walks with your dog and it can cause an accident. If you don’t have time to walk your dogs yourself, then avail of Hot Diggity Dog’s dog walking services. We offer on-leash and off-leash pack walk services in Etobicoke. For more info call us now at (647) 931-9103.