Why do dogs love to run away from you the moment you let them off their leash?

Apparently there is such a thing as “off-leash reliability.” I’ve never thought it in that way. I assumed my dog ran away from me because she is curious about everything outside, which is probably partly true. Maggie (the brindle dog seen above) has always been a free spirit. She loves to run and play with other dogs, but I’m always too scared to let her off the leash at dog parks. She has gotten away from me before at home and I’ve had to chase her down multiple times. She’s never gotten hurt (thankfully), and we always get her back at the end of the day, but I can help but worry about her.

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This is Bella, my other dog. I can trust her a little more off leash. I can walk from the backdoor of my house to the gate of my backyard and know she will follow me… Unless there is another dog on the street. There was one time where we were doing this, walking from the house to the backyard, and everything was fine until she noticed the neighbour and his dog walking by. I had to quickly jump and grab her collar so she wouldn’t run off and chase them. Now, Bella is the sweetest girl you will ever meet when it comes to humans, but she doesn’t get along with other dogs very well that aren’t Maggie. She is a rescue dog from Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue, and her abusive past has caused her to be a little more wary of those around her. To me and my family, she is the biggest baby in the world. I mean, here she is right now as I’m writing this blog post.

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She is always by our sides in the house, but outside, not so much.

So back to “off-leash reliability.” The Whole Dog Journal says that you need to build trust with your dogs before you can let them off the leash and expect them to stick around. There are different ways you can do this; train without a leash, include training in daily play, avoid food “lures” (yikes, I definitely use food lures), and build a reliable recall. So with these tips I will try and build some trust with my dogs throughout this semester. I’m specifically hoping to get some reliability with Maggie. Stay tuned folks, it’s going to be a long few months for the both of us.

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