When Should I Let My Puppy Off Lead?

One of the big mistakes that new puppy owners often make is to not let their puppy off lead early enough. Many owners think either their puppy is too young or too small to let off lead when in fact the opposite is true.

The problems with confidence

Waiting until your puppy is older before letting her off the lead can create unnecessary problems. Puppies quickly gain confidence with multiple, positive exposure to any stimuli. Once they have confidence with the ‘new’ experience of being outside, they will be ready to explore and chase after new smells. If at this point they have been restricted to lead walking only, the excitement of finally being let off the lead will see her having great fun just to run. This commonly sees the owners panic and franticly call their dog back with anxious voices. This gives the dog two reasons to not come back. a) they are having so much fun and b) It sounds like there is danger where their owners are.


When is my puppy old enough to let off the lead?

One week after your puppy has had both injections, she is ready to explore the big wide world. It is natural that she will be a little wary. Not only are there lots of new sights and smells but sounds outside will be very different too. This however is what should be taken advantage of! As soon as you are in a safe area, where if she did run of she will not end up in a road for example, let her off the lead and begin to walk away from her. Most puppies will run after you as it’s a little scary being out there on their own. If she does, give lots of praise and continue walking. Try to resist the temptation to run back to her if she doesn’t immediately follow, instead call her as you walk or use your whistle cue if you have be training with it. If all else fails, turn it into a game by making a loud, sharp sound and begin to jog away. This is something even the most independent puppies cannot resist!


Maddie Knight

ACC.Ad.Dip.Can.Psy AMACC Canine Psychologist and Behaviourist
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