We’ve been living in our new place for almost 2 months already, can you believe it?? Honestly, it feels like home already. I think that has to do with how much I love our new place and how the surroundings feel more familiar to me. I didn’t grow up in a city (I grew up in the middle of 100 acres of farm land and spent summers at our cabin on a lake) so while I liked living in Denver, it was very foreign to me. Living in Boulder feels much more “home-y” to me. I credit the trail access for that. Loki agrees, this off leash lifestyle is much better.We live across the street from miles and miles of trails that are part of Boulder County’s Voice and Sight program, so almost all of our daily walks and runs are off leash. Living off leash doesn’t come without some training. Every time we go out, I stuff my pockets with Full Moon Training Treats to work on our voice and sight requirements. What does that entail? Loki is supposed to come to me on the first command. I ask him to sit and look at me too. Basically, I want his attention on me, not on the other dogs, hikers or wildlife we might come across. The treats come in very handy for this type of training. They’re low calorie and made of human grade organic ingredients. They’re small and chewy, so Loki can easily chew them up on the go.On an average hike or run, we’ll practice a come and sit at least 5 times. And then there are times when we aren’t practicing – for example, we came upon a horse on a trail and I needed Loki to get out of the rider’s way on the trail and sit by my side immediately. We practice so much that Loki doesn’t understand the difference between practice and safety issues, he just listens.
I try to use a firm, deeper voice when calling Loki. He seems to respond better to that than my normal talking voice. Also I don’t ask him to come multiple times, that just discredits your command. Say come once, firmly. Don’t beg your dog.
Basically, in order to have a successful and stress-free off leash experience, your pup needs to be more interested in listening to you than chasing a prairie dog or bouncing on passing hikers. A simple way to accomplish this is to be the keeper of the tastiest treats. Mr. Teeps loves the Full Moon Training Treats in the Duck flavor. I think they must be stinkier than the chicken, and stinkier treats equals better in dog language.
I also keep a squeaky ball on me if my voice command alone fails to interest Mr. Teeps. This works particularly well if he’s sniffing around in some bushes, on the hunt for prairie dogs…the sound of the squeaker peaks his attention, then I say come “Loki come” and he’ll come over to me, sit and get a treat. Or I toss him the squeaky ball.
I try to alternate treats with pure affection, that way if I don’t happen to have a treat on me, Loki still gets a reward and is happy about it.
Most importantly, have fun with your dog. You’re both outside to have a good time. Don’t turn your walks into purely drill time, keep it fun and enjoy the bonding time. And remember, there is always time to stop for a mid hike smooch.
Here’s a little recap of my tip & tricks for off leash training:
- Keep training treats on you, the keeper of the treats holds the power. Loki recommends Full Moon Training Treats.
- Have a squeaker toy with you to get your dogs attention when a voice command fails.
- Be firm with your command, don’t beg your dog.
- Alternate treat rewards with affection.
- Know your dog. If you see something ahead on the trail that might be a problem for your dog off leash, put them on the leash.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Have fun!
This post was created in partnership with Full Moon Pet. Mr. Teeps was sent their new Training Treats to taste test, you can find them at Walmart right now and more retailers coming soon! Also I’m not a professional dog trainer, just a top notch dog mom.