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Your Greyhound wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s calm, collected and friendly with everyone. So you want to be able to let him off the leash so he can stretch those running legs. However, you live in a busy area with lots of traffic and vehicles around. So you’re worried if you let him roam around off the leash that he might get involved in an accident. Therefore, you need to carefully train your Greyhound off the leash.
Get this training right and there will be a number of positives. Firstly, Greyhounds simply cannot get the same amount of exercise if they are walked on a leash. So if you are out at work for a lot of the day and don’t have too much time to walk him, then this could seriously improve his quality of life. Also, Buddy is simply far happier off the leash and what other motivation do you need than that?
Training a Greyhound to walk off-leash won’t necessarily be easy and it certainly comes with risks. You may not be able to control your dog if other pets suddenly appear on the scene or they like the look of something on the horizon. So rigorous obedience training will be used, while you instill a dependence in them to stay close to your side.
If your Greyhound is still a puppy then they should be a fast learner and you could see results in just a couple of weeks. However, if your dog is older with years of bad habits under their collar then you may need a couple of months. If you get this training right you’ll never have to worry again about the gate being left over and them escaping. Furthermore, the increased exercise they will get from being off the leash is actually good for their mental health!
Before you start work, you will need to gather a few bits. A training leash will be required. As will treats or their favorite food broken into small pieces. Another important component is a secure space where you can practice off-leash.
You don’t have to set aside specific time for training, instead, you can practice when you’re out on your daily walk. A friend will also be required for one of the methods below.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and optimism, then work can begin!
The Concentration Method
Take your Greyhound into a confined yard. Ensure they are on a leash and then stand and look at them. You are waiting for them to ignore the distractions around and concentrate on you fully.
As soon as they look at you completely, even briefly, say ‘yes’ in a light-hearted voice and unclip them. You will now always wait for that moment where they give you attention before you release them from the leash.
Let them roam around and go about sniffing. But whenever your Greyhound returns to you, give a ‘yes’ in a quiet but positive voice. You can then hand over a treat or play with a toy for a minute or so.
Now take your dog into a more testing environment with distractions around. You may want to keep them on a really long leash or rope to start with. Then continue to praise them whenever they return to you in the same way.
Finish with fun
You don’t want your Greyhound to associate going back on the leash with negatives. So make sure they always get a treat or a quick play around once you clip them back to the leash. This will help ensure that if you do need to call them back, they will definitely return.
The Early Start Method
Most owners take their dogs to obedience classes and do all their training on a leash. Then when they let them off the leash they don’t know how to behave. So, teach ‘sit’ ‘stay’ and all other commands off the leash.
From a puppy
The earlier you can start training your dog off a leash, the sooner you will see results. If they have always grown up being able to roam around then they won’t be so difficult to control when they’re let off the leash.
Teach your Greyhound a whole host of obedience commands. This will all increase your control ensuring they are more likely to stay by and return to your side when called. This will also help assert your position as pack leader.
Whenever they are off the leash, regularly call your Greyhound over and give them a treat. Call their name in an animated voice and always be happy to see them. This is about getting them to associate you with positive consequences.
Never punish them
If they do misbehave off the leash, be careful not to punish them. If you scare them they may be less likely to stay close to you and well-behaved next time. Instead remain calm at all times.
The Recall Method
Head out with a friend
Take your dog to a local field with a friend and some toys and treats in tow. You’re going to teach your pooch to always come to you when called. After a while this will ensure they naturally stay close to you at all times.
Have your friend call the dog over in a playful voice. Greyhounds learn best when they think they’re playing a game.
As soon as your Greyhound gets to their feet, have the friend hand over a reward or play with a toy for a minute or so.
Now you need to call the dog over in the same way. Pat your knees and encourage them to come charging towards you. As soon as they reach you, hand over a reward and some tasty treats. Now you just need to practice this for a few minutes each day. Keep training short to begin with and then gradually increase the time over several days.
After a couple of weeks they should soon be in the habit of coming to you whenever instructed. But more than that, they will probably naturally want to stay close by. To further reinforce the training, call your over when you’re in the house, before dinner and when distractions are around.
By James Barra
Published: 03/15/2018, edited: 01/08/2021