With a couple of new puppies around and all the work their owners are putting into them, I started thinking if it was all worth it. I mean, what’s the big deal of being well behaved and is it so important to be off-leash trained.
This made me realize that off-lead isn’t a single thing: it’s the walker and your dog’s assessing situations. It creates a greater understanding of who the dog is and where it fits in in the world. I believe that dogs seek purpose much like we do. Being a valued member within the culture of a sane, well-adjusted human/dog pack makes sense to a dog.
The emotional benefits of being off leash help dogs to think. From what I see, it appears dogs who spend significant amounts of structured time off leash are completely and utterly different from dogs who spend their entire lives penned, kenneled, on lead. They’re more centered, more grounded, more responsible. They understand that they are part of a pack and that there are responsibilities to behave correctly within that pack’s culture.
There are more than just visible controls because your dog comes back. There is a partnership. On long walks or when rambling around you rarely need to say anything to your dog. When they come to a fork in the trail they either wait for you to choose which you’ll take or explore just a short distance down one fork, then detour if you decide to go a different way. They don’t go out of sight. If they see a critter, they look at you to ask permission to. If you stop to rest, they gather around. You become together in spirit not just sharing space but because you are able to command them off leash.