My dog has finally gotten that off leash should not mean a quarter mile away.

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I adopted a beagle/lab mix about a year and a half ago. He is a great dog 80% of the time. Super friendly to other dogs and people. Loves to work for treats. Was great going to work with me (before covid meant masks and face shields and gowns and wiping literally everything with disinfectant all the time). The only thing I had no trust in was his recall.

There's a calm dog park within walking distance of my house, but it's unfenced. There's a fenced dog park nearby, but we have to drive and it seems to be rowdier dogs. I've let him off leash a few times (like maybe 4?) before at the closer dog park and end up having to sprint following him because he got distracted and didn't even hear his name. Once he was being really good at my grandmothers so I let him off leash and again he started running and just didn't turn back. I had to get a ride from a golfer to catch up with him.

We've been working really hard on off leash stuff in very controlled situations/areas and in the last three months he's gained a lot. So today I took him to the unfenced dog park and let him off. He stayed close-ish, he kept looking to me and once he got kind of far, but when he looked at me I crouched then turned to jog in the other direction and he zoomed to catch up with me. I'm so happy and so proud.

Things I think really contributed: loose leash training transitioning to off leash training starting in alleyways progressing to hiking trails. Agility class where if he ran away someone would catch him, hold him until I got him and the run would be over; fun stuff only happened if he stuck with me. Playing hide and seek; it started at home where we would toss his toy and hide while he retrieved it and throw a party when he found us and transitioned to one of us walking on in the park while the other one hid behind trees – I primed him with that today which kept him looking for me while he was playing with the other dogs.

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