Can A Hound Dog Be Trained Off Leash?

Dachshund on a leash.

Whenever you’re out with your dog, you are constantly reminded to keep it on a leash. Whether you are teaching it how to swim or general behavior training, leashing your hound is important, but are hounds capable of being trained to be off leash?

Training your hound off-leash is very difficult and nearly impossible. Hounds, especially scent hounds, are known to track by using their noses and run off at the slightest scent recognition. Without a leash, it’s hard to keep up.  

Generally, hounds are active dogs with sharp instincts. Initially, hounds were hunting and tracking dogs. They have an acute sense of smell and excellent at sniffing out people and objects. Hounds are smart but also stubborn and very independent. Without a leash, training one can be hard.

When your hound picks up a smell, it focuses so much on the scent that you essentially become invisible. Any command you give them falls on deaf ears. Without a leash on, your dog is likely to run off in pursuit of the scent.

I’ve tried training my two miniature dachshunds off leash many times and each time I was unsuccessful.

Risks Of Letting Your Dog Off-Leash

Much as you want to let your dog off-leash, you have to understand that there are risks involved. Before you let your hound off-leash, you have to ask yourself how safe your dog will be. When training your dog, leashing is essential, even when it’s hard for both you and your dog.

 Here are some risks of letting your hound off-leash:

  1. Risk of accidents such as being hit by a car

Off-leash, your hound is likely to run after anything and everything of interest, and depending on where you live the chances of him getting hit by a car are high. Unfortunately, many dogs are hit by cars every year, and it’s not wise to think that your dog is street smart and will stay out of a busy street. Even if your dog is not hurt it may cause an accident by motorists swerving to avoid hitting your dog.

  1. Unleashed dogs can harm humans

It is not unusual for your hound to jump on people in excitement, especially people it can recognize. However, sometimes, this jump may knock down a person, causing injuries. Your dog can even scratch that person while jumping on them.

If your hound has a tendency to be aggressive, letting it off-leash is risky. It may bite people, scratch, or even harm other pets or children.

You also have to consider the kind of trauma and emotional harm your dog may have on people. Not everyone likes dogs. Some have a terrible history with dogs, and having a dog jump on them may trigger them even if it’s harmless. Some individuals genuinely fear dogs and want nothing to do with them.

  1. Other dogs may injure your dog

Unleashing your dog puts it at risk of meeting other dogs, which may be aggressive. When you release your dog, it may run off and meet other dogs, sometimes stray dogs which may be hostile towards him.

Just because your hound is friendly and loves people doesn’t mean that all dogs are that way. To be safe, always leash your dog. You don’t want your pet getting into a fight with another dog. These fights usually result in injuries, both physical and emotional.  

  1. Your dog can pick something toxic and eat it

It seems like every week my two mini dachshunds find something they shouldn’t eat in my backyard.

Unleashing your dog makes it able to roam around freely, away from your supervision. He is likely to pick up something toxic and eat it. Your hound may pick up poisonous items, contaminated foods thrown in the trash can, toxic plants, and fruits.

He may even swallow items that can choke him, such as rocks, nylon bags, and other sharp objects. Such accidents are painful and costly as your pet may need surgery in some cases.

In fact, one of my dachshunds, Duncan, became very ill and I though he had swallowed an acorn. Thankfully, he only had gas, but it cost me almost $1000 for a vet visit and an x-ray.

  1. Your dog faces the risk of contracting diseases

It’s not bad for your dog to roam around freely without a leash on. However, your dog could also exposed to zoonotic diseases, which are infectious diseases that can be spread between humans and dogs. 

Hounds like sniffing around. They may sniff their way into trash cans and other hazardous places, putting them at risk of injury or infection.

  1. You risk being fined

For your dog’s safety and that of others, many states and municipalities have strict leash laws put in place. Therefore, if you choose to unleash your dog, be prepared to pay some fines. In fact, many places are even banning certain types of dogs in their city. Fortunately, I have yet to hear of a breed of hound being banned.

Basic Commands for Off-Leash Training

When training your dog, you must start with the basic commands. These commands are essential since they provide the foundation for all the other commands. Your hound should master these basic cues. These commands also give your pet some sense of order and structure. Just know it will be difficult and take a lot of time.

These commands include:

  • Wait: This command tells your dog not to move forward or do anything until you say so. It comes in handy when your dog has a habit of bolting out of the house or car the moment you open the door. ‘Wait’ tells your dog to be still and patient.
  • Stay: Like wait, the ‘stay’ command is used when you need your dog to sit and be still. The stay cue is vital since you will be able to keep your dog calm and controlled even in public places. It also makes it easy for you to let it off the leash. Unlike the wait command, stay is firmer.
  • Sit/Heel: This should be the first command you teach your pet. This cue is important, especially when your dog is becoming unruly or throwing a tantrum. The sit command requires your dog to sit and calm down.
  • Leave it: This command comes in handy when you don’t want your dog to pick something inappropriate. You can use this cue to prevent your dog from chewing your pair of shoes, or rolling in bird poop like my dachshund, Teagan, likes to do.
  • With me: This cue makes your dog follow you and not pull on the leash. With this command, you can make your dog walk or run beside you, whether he’s leashed or not.
  • Loose leash walking: Although this is not necessarily a voice command, a loose leash signals your dog that he has more freedom to explore and sniff around.

Tips For Off-Leash Training

When training your dog, or if you are a new dog owner, here are some tips to keep in mind. First of all, training your dog to come when you call him may be the most challenging hurdle. But don’t worry, these tips and tricks will help make the process easier and faster.

Take advantage of treats and rewards. These make the training more fun and interesting for your hound. You can use his favorite toys and snacks as treats. 

When your dog is training to come to you when you call him, always reward the recall. They will soon associate coming to you with getting a reward. Over time, you can gradually ease off the rewards.

Practice daily. Training will only bear fruit if you stay consistent. Training your dog every day also strengthens the bond between the two of you. You can even increase the difficulty as the days go by. Increase the number of obstacles and distractions. Be careful not to move too fast, as your pet can get confused.  

To sum up, don’t punish your dog if he doesn’t catch up quickly, instead, be patient with him.

People Also Ask:

Are hound dogs easy to train?

Generally, hound dogs will be difficult to train. Hounds were bred to be hunters and are quite intelligent, hard working and active. Their strong and independent personalities can be difficult to manage when training them to be a house pet.

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