Off-Lead Etiquette

by Nancy Boland

Running off –lead can be a concern for some types of dogs, especially if they aren’t yet one hundred percent confident about their recall, or, if they can be unpredictable with certain dogs or people.

This article aims to give you some guidance on good off-lead etiquette, and what to keep in mind when if you’re dog displays similar tendencies.


Good training

Before taking your dog to any area off-lead, make sure they have some good ground training in place so that they can respond appropriately to your commands in a variety of different public situations.

You shouldn’t let you dog off-lead before you are confident they have strong recall in place. This is important for the safety of other people and their dogs so make sure your dog stays on his lead if he isn’t well trained enough to be trustworthy.


Your dog should be vaccinated against all of the core transmissible canine diseases as advised by your vet. This is even more important in areas where other dogs visit regularly as this can easily spread viruses and illnesses. Not only should your dog be vaccinated to minimise the risk of them catching an illness from another dog, but also so that they do not pass on any conditions themselves.

Have your dog neutered

If you own an un-neutered dog or un-spayed bitch, this can cause problems around other un-neutered dogs of the same sex as there can be risk of them fighting. If you have a bitch in season, she must be kept away from places with other loose dogs.

Good socialisation 

Public places where dogs and their owners frequent like dog parks or the beach are great places to take your puppy or young dog to increase their socialisation skills and learn how to play appropriately with other dogs and wider variety of people. However, an older dog may not benefit immediately from this kind of socialisation and may become weary or even snap at another dog. Socialising older dogs is usually a longer process than with younger ones and needs to be introduced gradually under controlled conditions. Taking an under-socialised older dog to a busy area with lots of other dogs is not the best route to take initially, so make sure you know your dog and his temperament well.

Know when it is time to call it a day

Once your dog gets tired and stops responding to your recall commands call it a day and head for home. Dogs, like children, can get grumpy once they’re tired and begin to snap at other dogs. This can quickly escalate into some pretty aggressive behaviour so it’s always best to keep aware of your dogs moods as the day progresses.

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