However, this is a breed that needs to be properly and frequently exercised. And for suburban, rural, and city-dwelling owners alike, this could be an issue. A fenced yard can only entertain a dog for so long, at some point they will need to explore new places to avoid feeling bored or confined. While this is great fun for the both of you when using a leash, the Whippet breed longs to run, and fast, so unless you're an avid runner yourself, you may want to consider off-leash training.
Due to their speed and intense craving to chase, many Whippet owners worry that their pet may never be able to explore or play off-leash. Off-leash training can be a scary process. There's the constant fear that the dog may encounter an unfriendly dog or wild animals, run away and get lost, travel into oncoming traffic, or interact with someone who is afraid of dogs. Unfortunately, there's no way to guarantee the safety of our pets - or others - when we let them roam free.
Of course, there are preventative measures we can take as dog lovers and owners to ensure their safety and our peace of mind. All we can do is be sure that we've trained with and prepared them well enough to make the right choices: to come when called, to sit or stay when commanded, to be properly socialized and therefore understand the difference between a dog that wants to play and a dog that wants to be left alone (this one will save them from getting into fights).
Owning a dog that's comfortable and obedient while off-leash can give you a great feeling of pride. No more embarrassing moments at the dog park where your pet ignores your requests, no more getting tangled up in a leash, and no more having to follow or keep up with your speedy hound. Now you can go to the park, unclip their leash from their harness or collar, post up on a bench, and watch them frolic, carefree and happy.
The off-leash experience for a canine is just as wonderful as yours, giving them time to do what dogs do best: sniff, run, and explore without being restricted.
But not all the responsibility is on the dog, in fact, most of it, if not all, is on you - their guardian and trainer. Your Whippet can't help running after a cat or squirrel or rabbit; to not do so would be rewriting centuries of breeding history. What they can do, however, is be receptive to training, making them more and more obedient with or without a leash.
This compiled list sums up everything that is your responsibility leading up to and during off-leash training:
Recognizing the body movements that lead up to your Whippet making a wild dash will help you to intervene. If you can gain their attention before they notice something of interest, you have a much higher chance of keeping them from running off.Practice the 'sit' and 'stay' commands.
These are key commands for every dog owner, but they become particularly important during off-leash training due to their ability to quickly gain a dog's attention and keep them still.Study off-leash dog and owner etiquette.
Not all animals are meant to be off-leash and not all dog-owners appreciate an off-leash dog being around their leashed dog. If other dogs are in the area who are leashed, they could be dog-reactive. To be considerate of others and to avoid any conflict, immediately recall your Whippet and leash them until the other dog has gone.Become familiar with your local parks' rules.
Some parks have designated off-leash areas, such as dog parks. In some places, an off-leash dog can even be fined if present in areas specifically designated for leashed dogs only.Get your dog microchipped and up to date.
Microchips are easily inserted and not painful for pets. They do not have GPS tracking, but they are more reliable than just tags on a collar and all Humane Societies have the ability to check for microchips, helping them to find a lost dog's owner. There are a number of GPS products available to pet owners, many of them attach to a collar, some can be inserted much like the typical microchip. You should have a piece of paper that was issued when your dog got their microchip that has an I.D. number. Using this I.D. number you can call a number or go online to update your phone number or address. Tags are easily updated by going to a local pet supply chain and purchasing new ones.Purchase a clicker.
Clickers are one the cheapest, most reliable, and most dog-trainer-recommended resources for the modern pet owner. If you've heard the phrase "marking behavior" then you know that when we mark a dog's behavior we are immediately letting them know they just did something we really like to see. Some people use verbal markers, such as "Yes!" or "Good boy!" which can be effective, as well, but clickers give a distinct sound that dogs love to hear and they're very inexpensive and easily attainable when shopping at a local pet supply store or online. A clicker is especially used in off-leash training, because it can be used as a 9-1-1 button for gaining a distracted Whippet's attention.Know what to do if they bolt.
In the event that your dog does dash away, try not to panic. For their benefit and yours: Stay calm and in an excited tone, call their name. If this fails, call their name happily while jogging away from them (dogs, especially Whippets, can't resist a game of chase). As a last resort, open up a treat bag and jiggle it around in the air (try not to rely on this method). When they do return to you, reward them, never punish, even if they didn't listen or come back right away. Punishing them could cause them to avoid you when being called in the future.
And, most importantly, never, never, chase after your sighthound, because they may think it's a game, where they're "it", and it's highly unlikely you'll catch a dog bred for speed.