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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I was a kid at home (oh, those were the days!), my parents used to take all of us to the forest preserve hiking trails with our little mutt. Once on the trail, he would be let off leash. Us kids would run ahead on the path, our parents lagging behind. Stubby used to love to run back and forth constantly between us to make sure we were all there. Sometimes, we would hide along the path and he would go shooting by us, not noticing! Then we would jump out and he would run back. Such fun we had!

Since I've been a adult with my own family, I have always been so afraid to let my dogs off leash at the forest preserve on hiking trails. I am so worried that they would take off and not come back. Of course, Duffy is a puppy so I would never think of trying this yet.

But I'm wondering if many of you do let your dog off leash when hiking? Am I being too cautious? My friend has an aussie/shepherd mix that she always lets off leash and says he wanders ahead but always returns to her.

Just wondering what everyone else does!

Kris
 

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my girls almost always go off leash at the forestry and always around the farm. but they weren't allowed the privilege until they had 110% proven their instant recall & distance down/stay.
 

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I used to do it, but only if the dog were perfect on their recall. I also always kept biscuits in my pockets and would randomly call the dogs to me, and give them biscuits when they came.

I have never forgotten riding up to the National Forest when I lived in Greenville, SC, and seeing 2 little dachshunds run across the road in front of us, looking absolutely freaked out. We got out and tried to get them, but they were booking up the mountain. There were bears, snakes and mountain lions up there, and a lot of unexplored forest area, so I don't think they had much of a chance to survive :(
 

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It's illegal around here to have them offleash in the National Forests. But I do have places that I take them where they are offleash. All of them have been offleash in certain areas since they were puppies. I also keep a pocketful of treats, as added insurance, but they have no desire to take off.

Heck, just today I had all three here at work with me (my roof is being replaced) and was outside with them on leash in the parking lot when they saw my mom and all three lunged (I didn't have their harnesses on, my bad!) at the same time so I dropped the leashes. They ran circles around my mom and came right back to me. I just wish they hadn't recognized her so far away!
 

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Our old boy, Jake, now at the bridge, we didn't trust unless we absolutely knew the terrain of the place. There was a section of a nature preserve that we would let him go off leash because it wasn't near any body of water. Here in South Florida, you have to assume that standing fresh water has gators and Jake loved the water so much, he would not listen if he saw water--he would make a break for it, and that was it (even though he had a couple of basic AKC obedience titles).

As for Alli, we could trust her, but we still were rather cautious. There are signs all over the place that state in the city, county and Federal parks, dogs must be on a 6 ft. leash, minimum. If something happens, and a person accuses your dog of frightening them, causing them to fall and injure themselves, etc. etc., well, you're liable for ignoring the rules. That's not to say we haven't let our dogs off leash--but it's not like the "good ol days" before everything was regulated the way it is now in the US. I think it's a case where owners, overall, don't realize the importance of being responsible--there's also been an explosion in the # of families owning dogs. So now there's more rules that have been made to be followed.
 

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I agree with Rappwizard on this. We had a very nice forest preserve near a lake that people would take their dogs to. Then there were tons of complaints about offleash dogs running up to/ knocking down/ jumping up on people along with dog poop everywhere. So the city worded the leash law there more strongly and posted it at the entrances to this preserve. This didn't make one difference. People continued to let their dogs run loose and wreak havoc. So they banned dogs from that park totally. It's really sad that those of us who would never dream of breaking the law can't hike in this beautiful forest because of the irresponsible dog owners who thought they were above the law.
 

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I prefer to bring Zep to a place where he can run off leash, as he gets more exercise and i dont have to do the "brisk" walk. :) His recall is not great (we are working on it...still...) but he does not just take off either. Right now, we cant go to our favorite place and let him off leash because of snowmobiles. Bummer.
 

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My dogs are off leash for most of their walks have both have been let free since they were 12 weeks old. We have no leash laws here and no worries about dangerous creatures (gators, yikes!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, its good to know that they don't have the tendency to just bolt and not return! That's what I was wondering.

I have taken Duffy to our corner park with a very long leash (30'). Its a good place to practice recall. So far, he is very good - will come back to me every time I call.

Kris
 

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Kris,

Did you check on the Cook County Forest Preserve site to see if they even have off leash areas? I know Dupage has special areas set aside for off leash....... with a fee, of course. Ours are good about running ahead, then checking back in with us. The main worry when in these areas are the other dog owners that don't control their own..... just as in some dog parks..... you run into the occasional problem dogs. You're working on recall, as others have said, is very important. It does increase the percentages they will return to you when you call them.;)
 

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My dogs are off lead on their walks...fields, woods, beaches...I start letting them off as puppies and begin training recall. I could not imagine not being able to let the dogs run everyday, luckily we must live in a dog friendly country!
 
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