When it comes to outdoor adventures, having a good off leash dog will make those adventures more enjoyable. So today, I thought of doing an article about whether shelties are good off leash.
Are shelties good off leash? Most of the shelties do not do well off leash. This is mainly due to their natural instinct towards herding. So, they tend to chase anything they encounter. But a good recall training, positive reinforcement techniques, and consistency can make them good at off leash.
Although shelties are not ideal dogs for off leash, some proven methods can make it happen. So, keep reading to know those precious methods!
Reasons why some shelties aren’t good off leash?
Now let us dive in to find 3 reasons why some shelties aren’t good off leash? It is crucial to know these reasons before you start training your sheltie to be off leash.
Natural instinct towards herding.
Shetland sheepdog, often known as sheltie, is a breed of herding dog. So shelties tend to herd anything they encounter, including other dogs and small animals.
They are known to bark a lot. Especially some shelties are highly vocal when off leash.
Each canine comes with a unique personality and experience. Some will do well with off leash while some will not.
How to train your sheltie to be off leash?
Now you know why your sheltie is not good at the off leash. Then let us focus on how to train your sheltie to be off leash.
The most important thing here is if you are expecting your sheltie to be off leash when you want to, you must start off leash training from his/her puppyhood.
An off leash training mainly involves recall training, positive reinforcement techniques, and consistency.
Having a reliable recall is an essential thing if you want your sheltie to be off leash.
So do you know what is a reliable recall is? ‘Reliable Recall’ is when you call your dog to come to you. If he responds quickly and enthusiastically (of course, it is coming to you!), your dog has a reliable recall.
A crucial point in recall training is making you the most enjoyable thing (center of attention) for your sheltie and also the thing that they get most rewards other than focusing their attention on exciting smells, dogs, and other small animals.
Start in a place with a minimum of distractions
First, start in a place with a minimum of distractions and gradually train him. Start training in a place with a minimum of distractions, like inside your house when only family members are around.
show your sheltie a favorite toy or treat
Then, show your sheltie a favorite toy or treat. If he/she comes near you, appreciate him and give rewards. Repeat the process 2-3 times. Then start using a command like ‘come’ or ‘here’ when he starts coming to you.
If he obeys, reward him and repeat the process. Then you can increase the distance gradually between you and your sheltie and repeat the process.
Do this until you think he is safe to carry on in a place with more distractions. Be patient and consistent with your training.
go to your fenced back yard and repeat the above process
Next, go to your fenced backyard and repeat the above process. So, You should Gradually increase the distance between you and your sheltie. Be alert about his/her behavior.
If you feel like he is losing his attention towards you, run in the opposite direction, saying ‘Come’ or ‘get me’ Your sheltie will definitely chase you. Again you will be his sole attention.
I have seen many sheltie owners who got awesome results from this command when it comes to recalling training. As I emphasized above, making you the most enjoyable thing to him is the key to recall training success.
As shelties are natural herders, there are many things that excite them in the environment. Here I would like to advise you to pay 100% attention to your sheltie during this training.
Train him to the command ‘leash on’
If your sheltie responds positively, you can proceed with training in a place like a dog park with a fenced yard. Before start training in a dog park, train him to the command ‘leash on’, which tells him to come closer to get the leash on.
Early socialization with your neighbors and their pets will help you to make this training better. If you see a new dog who is not familiar with your sheltie, keep your buddy leashed in the dog park.
Engage in this training regularly until he gets a reliable recall. So, let us look at some games that you can play with your sheltie to improve his/her recall.
- Catch me
- Hide and Seek
- Who is calling
You can do this in the early stages of recall training. First, try this in your yard, and gradually you can proceed to the dog park when his/her recall is much better.
While walking with your sheltie on a leash, when he is paying attention to you, turn around and run a few steps. You can use the ‘come’ command to encourage him to follow you. Then after a few steps, reward your sheltie.
Hide and Seek
Call your sheltie from another room to come and find you. Especially use the command that you are using to recall your sheltie. (It can be something like ‘Come’ or ‘Here’)
If he became successful in finding you reward him and, most importantly, show him that you are super excited about his achievement! Repeat the game. When he is familiar with the game, you can play this unexpectedly on the beach or at the dog park.
Who is calling
Please take a few of your family members outside and give them some treats that your sheltie prefers. Then advise them to stand apart and take turns calling your sheltie to them. Reward your doggie each time when he comes to the person who called him.
Besides these games, you can use a whistle as the recall. It worked marvelous with some dogs that I knew, so I think you also can try this with your sheltie.
Now I think it’s time to share the 5 Recall Rules for success with an off-leash that I came across while working with dogs and their owners.
- NEVER make recall an end of fun!
- Always make sure that recall is associated with his favorite things.
- Be patient.
- Stop calling repeatedly.
- Be super excited when he comes to you.
1. NEVER make recall an end of fun!
So, This is a common mistake that most dog owners do. They recall their dog, put the leash on, and walk home. So, it is natural for dogs to interpret recall as an end in fun. Instead, you can wait until your dog is ready to come to you to put the leash on.
2. Always make sure that recall is associated with his favorite things.
You can choose this according to your dog’s preferences. You can use Frisbees, balls, or any other toys. Also, you can use one of his favorite food items too.
3. Be patient.
You have to admit the fact that dogs struggle with smell more than humans do. It will be challenging for him to obey you and deal with the strange smells simultaneously. So, you have to be patient with your buddy during your recall.
4. Stop calling repeatedly.
If your dog is not responding after a few recalls, never do it repeatedly.
5. Be super excited when he comes to you.
Always behave as you are super excited about your dog coming to you to respond to your recall. Praise him verbally and physically.
Shelties are natural herding dogs as well as they are energetic, acrobatic, and athletic dog breed, so you should pay attention to the safety training during off leash as it will take only seconds for your sheltie to start chasing something he/she encounters.
You should pay attention to the safety training during off leash as it will take only seconds for your sheltie to start chasing something he/she encounters.Ms. Pavithra (Veterinary undergraduate)
If you intend your sheltie to walk with you in the road off leash, you must train him to NOT go off the sidewalk ever. You can train him to a command like ‘Wait’ until it is safe to go off the sidewalk, especially in instances like crossing the road.
Then use a command like ‘Okay’ to cross the street with you. Train your sheltie to consider the sidewalk as a border and the road as off limit.
When and where you can let your sheltie off the leash?
First, you must be aware of the off leash rules in your area and let your sheltie off leash according to those rules and regulations.
Now let us dive in to find when and where you can let your sheltie off the leash according to his/her status in the off leash training procedure.
If your sheltie is untrained, you can let him go off leash,
- Inside your house when strangers are not around.
- In your fenced back yard.
If your sheltie is progressive in off leash training, you can proceed to,
- Your fenced front yard.
- During hiking.
If your sheltie is well trained and has a reliable recall, including safety training,
- Inside a safe dog park.
- In the beach (It is better if you can introduce him to the beach during the off season and gradually proceed to the beach season)
- In the road under your watchful eyes.
Pros and cons of letting your sheltie off the leash?
Now let us look at the advantages and disadvantages for both you and your sheltie of letting your sheltie off leash.
|Can get exercises himself/herself.||Some shelties bark a lot when off-leash.|
|Your sheltie will be a good hiking companion.||Chasing people, dogs, vehicles and other small animals.|
|Can participate your sheltie in agility.|
Can get exercise himself.
Shelties are energetic, acrobatic, and athletic dog breed that needs a high amount of exercise daily. They need more than 2 hours of exercise per day. It should be vigorous exercises other than something like a walk.
So if your sheltie can do well with an off-leash, he can get exercises himself without your interference. This is an excellent solution to his exercise demand if you are a busy person who will have to leave your sheltie alone at your house.
Your sheltie will be a good hiking companion.
Hiking with your off leash dog is more fun than on-leash. If your sheltie is well trained in off leash, he will make an excellent hiking companion for you.
Can participate in your sheltie in agility.
Agility is an excellent solution to your sheltie‘s exercise problem. But the problem here is agility classes are done group-wise, and it is essential that your dog listens to you when off leash.
If you are a person living an apartment life with your sheltie, agility is a better solution to meet your doggo’s exercise demands.
Some shelties bark a lot when off-leash. : They are known to bark a lot. Especially some shelties are highly vocal when off leash.
Things to be aware
If you are letting your sheltie off-leash, you must care about his safety. Be alert, especially when walking with him on the road off leash.
Be aware of the off-leash laws in your area and follow those rules and regulations.
Choose the most appropriate dog park.
Choose the dog park with a minimum of distractions if you expect your sheltie to be off leash. It is better if you can select a one away from vehicle park, road, with a minimum of small animals and fencing.
Puppies and off-leash.
According to my experience, letting puppies between 4-12 months off leash is just asking for trouble. They are curious and more vulnerable to accidents.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the fact that shelties are not the ideal dog breed to go off-leash. It is mainly due to their natural herding instinct. But as I mentioned above, there are proven tactics to make it possible.