How to Train a Doberman to Walk Off Leash

Hard
1-3 Months
General

Introduction

Your Doberman is just what you hoped he would be. He’s tough, strong, obedient and intelligent. He loves spending time with you in the house and messing around with the kids. However, what he enjoys the most is going out for walks. The only problem is that you’ve recently injured yourself, so holding him on a leash when he’s so big and strong can prove difficult. What would be fantastic is if you could train him to walk off the leash. 

If you succeed you can have the same relaxing stroll, you just won’t have to hold onto his leash and worry about being pulled and further hurting yourself. This type of training is also good for increasing your control and asserting your position as a pack leader. As a result, training him to do a range of other things may prove easier too.

Defining Tasks

Training your Doberman to walk calmly off a leash will not be straightforward. They are big, strong dogs who understandably want to run around and sniff everything in sight. So training will require using positive reinforcement to keep him by your side. You will need to create an invisible perimeter.

If he’s a puppy he should be a quick learner. This means you could see results in just a few weeks. However, if he’s older and never walked calmly off a leash then you may need a while longer. It could take up to three months before you see consistent results. Get this training right and you will be able to relax when you are near roads and busy traffic. In addition,  you will be able to trust him to behave when he’s around other pets and people too. 

Getting Started

Before you start training, you will need to get your hands on a few bits. The most important component will be tasty treats. However, you can also break his favourite food into small chunks. 

A clicker will also be needed for one of the methods. You don’t need to set aside time each day, you can train when you are out on your daily walk. 

Once you have all that, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!

The Treat Lure Method

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Step
1
Head out
Head out the door for your walk as you normally would. However, try to remain relatively calm and quiet, you don’t want to get him too worked up. Make sure you also have a pocketful of treats with you.
Step
2
Head height
Hold an irresistible treat down by your side as you go. Make sure he knows there is a treat there. This should keep him walking closely by your side. Often the smellier the food, the more effective it will be. For example, cheese usually works well.
Step
3
Walk 10 yards
Walk 10 or so yards with your Doberman by your side trying to get to the treat. Walk slowly and tempt him back over with the treat if he starts to lose interest.
Step
4
Reward
Once you have walked 10 yards, hand over the tasty treat. You can also give him some verbal praise. The happier he feels afterwards, the more likely he is to repeat the behavior again. If you use a clicker when training other commands, you may also want to give a click.
Step
5
Increase the distance
Now start walking again, but this time walk 20 yards before you hand over a treat. Keep increasing the distance and practice walking like this each day until he gets into a habit of staying by your side at all times.
Recommend training method?

The Long Line Method

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Step
1
Start early
The earlier you start training him to walk off a leash the easier it will be and the sooner you will see results. This is because Dobermans are particularly receptive to training when they are puppies.
Step
2
Long line
Secure him to a long leash. You can use an extendable leash or even a rope. You may also want to consider fitting him in a harness. This will reduce strain on his neck while affording you greater control.
Step
3
Reward him
Whenever he stays within a distance you like, toss him a treat and give him verbal praise. It may get a bit tiring after a while, but you are showing him how close you want him to stay to you.
Step
4
Call him back
Once he goes farther than you would like, call him back over in a high-pitched voice. If he doesn’t have a great recall, you can try running in the opposite direction, this usually makes them want to catch up with you.
Step
5
Lose the leash
After several weeks of consistent training, you can try walking him without the long leash. Again throw him treats and give him verbal praise when he stays close to start with. Once he’s into the routine of always staying nearby, you can then gradually cut out the treats.
Recommend training method?

The Leash First Method

Effective
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Step
1
Go out for a walk
Secure him to a short leash and then head out the door for your normal walk. Make sure he is firmly by your side as you leave the house. A short training leash will work best.
Step
2
Stop & ‘heel’
Whenever he pulls, stand still and issue a firm ‘heel’ command. You then need to wait for him to return to your side before you start walking again. You must do this every time he pulls. The idea is to get him into a habit of staying close to you on a leash before you can let him off it.
Step
3
Lose the leash
Once he gets the hang of it, you can lose the leash. By this point he will be into a routine of staying close to you and even distractions won’t tempt him away. If he does wander off when he’s off the leash, you can always use the ‘heel’ command to bring him back to your side.
Step
4
Treats
You will also need to regularly give him treats when he is off the leash. This will get him associating staying close to you with tasty rewards. This will also make it easier to call him over if any distractions arise.
Step
5
Never punish him
It is important you never punish your Doberman if he wanders off. If he is scared of you it will only be harder to keep him close to you when he’s off the leash. So stay calm at all times.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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