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Thread: Off-lead or Not?

  1. #1

    Default Off-lead or Not?

    Hi folks, I hope you can offer some advice here as i am getting quite exasperated by my one-year-old German Shepherd female (working breed). I don't have an enclosed doggy park nearby and so never felt confident enough to allow my pup off-lead. The thing is that when she's on-lead, she gets extremely frustrated when dogs walk past her without saying hello but I find other dog owners don't want their dogs mixing with such a big dog and so the frustration gets too much and she snarls, barks etc in an awful aggressive-looking way. I am sure she could be weaned out of this behaviour if she could meet them her way for a while in an off-lead area, free of the connection with me, but I am very wary of her perhaps wanting to chase smaller dogs. She's been to obedience classes but when she sees other dogs she doesn't even know I exist, she gets so excited. I don't think she is aggressive but am concerned that she may be if it continues like this. I am now considering putting a sheepdog muzzle on her for her first solo at the doggy park but still I'm cautious. Am I being TOO careful? I would not like to let her loose then find I've caused more problems.
    Any suggestions?

  2. #2


    I understand your concerns. when I first took my Old (R.I.P Toli) malamute to the dog park, i went through all the same concerns, because when walking on leash, she would display some of the same behaviours.

    what i have found tho, both with Toli, and with my two current dogs, is that in the dog park, it is a whole new world. I have only had 2 problems at the park. one where a Terrier bit my Malamute on the mouth. luckily she didn't retaliate, and the second was a dog that kept trying to mount my German Shep x. he sat on that dog.

    other than that, they interact fantastically. my understanding of it is that while on leash on a walk, they are "pack orientated", and they are/can be protective of you (especially a german shep), hence the aggressive looks. in the dog park, when let loose, they don't see it as if it is you and them against the world. also, being able to freely approach, and retreat from interactions helps.

    If you do go, i would let the dog off leash straight away. you may think (i certainly did) that it's a good idea to walk around with them to get to know the area, but most dogs, as i said before, interact so much better off leash.

    the soft material muzzles only cost about $9, so for your peace of mind, maybe grab one, and keep it with you in case things look like they are going to go badly, but i wouldn't put it on the dog straight away, as she will probably feel vulnerable without it, so with it on, she'll feel 100 times worse, and vulnerable dogs usually act aggressively.

    i found the best idea is to try to find a time where there are heaps of dogs there, so that she can find her own little group to play with.

    good luck

  3. #3


    Off topic
    Just like to say

    To Bex and Ktime70

  4. #4

    Default Thanks for your help

    Thanks for your help. I expect all I really need is reassurance that I'm at least attempting the right thing. I will give it a go and hope for the best, it's not a totally enclosed doggy park and so I'll have to give chase if she goes after a bird or something. In your opinion, would you say she would act a little calmer when on lead after a few play sessions off-lead? I am hoping this is the case. She was well socialised as a tiny pup but not overly disciplined (much to my regret) so her manners need a bit of work. Other dogs will no doubt help in that regard. I'm going to be working on the "I'm a great person to be with" training between now and then to reinforce our bond. Gosh, it's times like this I wish I were one of those people who don't worry about things and let everything fall into place, which is invariably does.
    I'll let you know how it goes later in the week/weekend.

  5. #5


    It really depends alot on the dog. I've found in my Old Mal, and my German Shep X that they are much more relaxed on leash now. My Young Malamute, however, gets even more excited when she sees dogs when she's on leash, because she wants to play with everyone now. but i think that will start to wear off soon (playing with other dogs is a novelty still, she hadn't been dog socialised at all until early this year).

    never underestimate the power of treats if your dog is food motivated!

    and remember, your dog will pick up on your moods. if your nervous, it'll translate in her behaviour. try to be confident and calm. if she sees you like that, she'll approach the situation more calmly. i was a skeptic about that until i took my friends Boarder collie X staffy to the park without her once. every time she was there she'd fret that the other dogs would attack her dog, and the dog would start fights.

    when he was there with just me, he blended right in, because i was calm and comfortable.

  6. #6

    Default Calm as a cucumber

    Yes, I see what you mean, I do appear to be very anxious and she will pick up on that so I have been going through the scenarios in my head trying to prepare for every eventuality and I will go into it with a carefree attitude and come-what-may abandon. Treats and a pocket full of bubbles (she loves playing with bubbles) will help in getting her attention when I recall too. Thanks for your help.

  7. #7


    Many thanks, ktime70, four socks and southern harmony. I see it's a problem at some time for most folks and I often reflect that you don't see the 'bad dogs' out there very often, they are kept in gardens. I'll get there in the end, that's for sure but I hope my little pal is reading this over my shoulder and co-operates, lol.
    Cheers, Bex

  8. #8


    Great advise from southern hamony. We are regulars at the dog park (Leo goes every day with my OH now, plus weekends with both of us) and we do see a newbie everynow and again, looking very nervous We often go over to chat to the newbie, ask how old is there dog, is he friendly? (Usually the response is we arent sure, we havent really had him off lead yet, his only so many months) and we then say well how bout our dogs have a bit of a play on lead first? We then let them play on lead (Leo has a long line too which is handy in these situations) under our supervision which often makes the 'newbie' that much more comfortable and within 10-15 minutes we usually end up letting both dogs off lead together (Provided all has gone well in supervised play)

    Its good us cause Leo gets more socialization, for the newbie to, as there dog i usually find takes direction from my dog being the slightly older/more trained dog, when i call Leo back the other dog will follow him, starting good habits to begin with i beleive.

    Sorry, im rather tired and a bit off today so hope that made sense and wasnt a waffle reply But really great advise you have been given so far. and excuse my spelling today too, sheesh! bad!
    Last edited by leo01; 07-09-2009 at 04:52 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    You need to go to training. Join a dog club and get some socialisation and some ideas on training. This will build your confidence. I don't let rescues off lead til I know them really well and some - aka flash - will never be allowed off lead in an unenclosed area cause he will well and truly bugger off if it so strikes him.

  10. #10


    [QUOTE=leo01;11960]we do see a newbie everynow and again, looking very nervous We often go over to chat to the newbie, ask how old is there dog, is he friendly? (Usually the response is we arent sure, we havent really had him off lead yet, his only so many months) and we then say well how bout our dogs have a bit of a play on lead first?

    I would just like to point out
    that is fantastic of you leo01
    the dog world needs more people like you
    thumbs up to you leo01

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