While we were on our trip, we had a rare opportunity with Silas. My in-laws own a relatively large chunk of property. It isn’t entirely fenced, but a dog would have to have serious determination to escape to get through the tangle of honeysuckle vines and blackberry briars on the boundary lines. So we let Silas off leash there.
He was so good. Beyond their back yard is a ten acre or so field, formerly farmed but now mostly grown up in seven foot high grasses. My father-in-law keeps a ten or twelve foot wide path mowed around the outside, and there is a large, irregularly shaped clearing in the center where he’s growing some rare/native plants. The native plants are also pretty tall these days.
For the first part of the day, we walked with Silas around the outside of the field. He wanted to be first, and fairly far away–maybe 50 feet or so. He never got farther than that, and he would come reasonably close if I called him back. If I knelt down, he would run for me like a crazy, and from time to time he would wander back to check on us. For an independent dog who has almost never been off leash, I was impressed.
Later in the afternoon we figured out Silas’s new favorite game. We led Silas into the clearing, and then we took turns hiding around/behind the stands of native plants. The non-hider would say, “Silas, where is (named person)? Can you find him/her?” And he would take off, top speed, looking all over. While he was loving that person, the other person would go hide. He was having the time of his life.
At my parents’ house we stuck with the more boring, but still more fun than he has here, game of letting him drag his long line while chasing his big orange ball.
I didn’t take a single photo, so I’ll share the video of Silas running around on our June vacation. (He is on his long-line, but you can’t see it.) I make a weird noise at the 30-second mark, because we spotted a huge groundhog off to the left of the frame. You can see my husband point toward it, and then we were kind of desperate to keep Silas from noticing it. Just FYI, this is way short of top-speed for Silas.
The only downside is that now I feel more guilty about our city-dog, no-yard lifestyle than ever. I don’t trust other dog owners enough to use the dog park, and the people-parks are all on-leash.
6 thoughts on “Off Leash”
I so get where you are coming from, I know I would feel so bad if we couldn’t walk in our woods. I’m really lucky to have the area and I know it. Maybe you can try going to an enclosed ball field or something similar, just to give him the opportunity.
I think we may get him a longer long-line. His is only 15 feet. There’s a great virtually abandoned (but unfenced) rugby field in the local park where he could do a good bit of ripping around with 30 feet.
What we really need to do is move. I think that a yard big enough to play fetch in would really be a huge improvement. We could afford it if we went further out of town. Heck, it would probably be *cheaper.* But, oh I hate moving so much, and a good landlord is hard to find.
Fun video! I love zoomies. 🙂
It sucks not having a place to let your dog run, I know that all too well. Are there any fenced-in tennis courts in your area? Though usually not dog-friendly, I used to hit these up on the regular during Shiva’s first year with us in the early mornings when no one else was around. Because I couldn’t trust her recall and we didn’t have a fenced yard, this was the only safe space we had to train. It’s kind of a catch-22. We couldn’t trust her off leash but we had no space to train her so that we could do so. It was frustrating, to say the least!
But please don’t feel guilty. Silas may love running around but I am sure he is also perfectly happy living with you, yard or no yard. Though they are very nice, yards are not at all necessary for dog ownership. You just have to get creative. Besides, I like to make the argument that my dog was actually better exercised than many dogs with yards because I was forced to take her out on a leash on a regular basis. I know it gave us a much closer bond than we would have had if I could have just let her out into the yard.
Ahh, but that’s the rub: Silas won’t go for regular walks, because he’s so afraid of cars/being out on the sidewalk. So we play *a lot* of fetch up and down the stairs and try to hit the park (a twenty minute drive) a few times a week. He doesn’t seem under-exercised in the sense of showing bored/destructive behavior, but it hardly seems fair. He’s getting better about the sidewalk, though, so maybe we have some hope!
I loved your video. Silas doing zoomies!
Your hide and seek game is awesome. I do it with Honey all the time and it keeps her recall sharp.
BTW, I am also a worrier about dog parks. But I’ve found that our local dog park is pretty good early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. (Apparently most Ithacans are lazy, er, I mean like to sleep in.)
We’ll find as few as 2-4 other people there with dogs and they come early because they’re about paying attention to their dogs and not about socializing. We’ve had good experiences. But I check it out alone several weekends before taking Honey. And we turned around and left any time we got a bad vibe about the situation at the park.
For now, it sounds like you’re giving Silas lots of good fun despite his walking fears and lack of a yard. Keep it up.
Thanks! Our early morning dog park experience was that everyone else was there for a reason–that reason being that their dog wasn’t great with other dogs. We’re in a mega-city, and it just seems like somebody else always has the same great idea I do. Statistics just aren’t on our side.