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Blog«Dog Etiquette in Off-leash Areas
Dog Etiquette in Off-leash Areas
Louise Harding
3 July 2019
12 April 2021
4.61 minutes
Etiquette, Dog Training, Outdoors, Adventure, Off-Leash, Beaches, Dog Park, Dog Safety, Dog Behaviour

In theory off-leash areas are a fantastic idea, unfortunately the reality isn’t all
rainbows and lollipops. It’s important to remember that anyone and their dogs can
use these areas (the only exception being registered/declared dangerous dogs).
What does this mean for you and your pooch? At any given time there may be dogs
of varying sizes, temperaments and training and a range of owners from the
conscientious to the “I don’t give a damn”. You can’t control who’s using the area but
you can be in control of how you approach the space and of course, in control of
your dog.

I strongly recommend to my clients that BEFORE they decide to let their dog ‘loose’
in an off-leash area to enjoy an independent sniff and play experience, their dog
must have these two basic behaviours.
1. A very reliable recall - this means your dog comes every time he is called
2. A strong stay command - he will stay ‘on the spot’ until given the ok to move
Please remember that even when off lead in an off-leash area, by law your dog
needs to be under "effective control”. Hence why both a stay command and a
recall are important.

A recall takes time and patience and incorporates these 5 steps.
1. Eye contact - Your dog acknowledges you and gives eye contact when his
name or other command is used.
2. Comes towards you when his name or other command is used.

3. Remains within your personal space for at least 10 seconds before you
release him to be free again.
4. Change direction - comes away, turns away from the direction he is heading
in, that is heading towards another dog and then turns and comes to you.
5. Sit or Down - you need to be able to get your dog to sit or down and remain in
that position while you bend over and pick up a dog poo, for example.
These steps all need to be broken down into separate behaviours and taught in
individual steps. Once they are reliable in a non-distracting environment then add
distractions and then you are good to head to the beach or off-leash park.
A reliable recall is something that needs to be worked on throughout your dogs life.
Many dogs begin their puppyhood and early teens with a reliable recall, however,
sometimes they realise that life away from their owner can be more interesting. They
start choosing their own behaviours and owners then can quickly lose control. Add a
few other dogs with similar behaviour and the result can be chaos.
If your dog can not do the above steps then it is not ready to be off-lead. Take a long
lead and practice the steps until your dog understands that he needs to give you
connection and his attention, then he will be given some independent time.
Let’s all train good dog etiquette, that way we will all be able to enjoy our open
spaces. I look forward to seeing you in the great outdoors.

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NOSE to TAILA Holistic Guide to Training Your Dream DogLouise Harding Author, Speaker and Master Dog Trainer


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