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Off Leash Hike
  • NicoNico
    Posts: 12
    Just wanted to share my experience with my fellow Shiba owners out there. I have two Shibas - Nico who has been with me for almost 2 years and Yubi who is just 16 weeks old. They've been playing together for two months now and absolutely love (& hate) each other. You practically can't separate them. Yubi will typically follow right behind or besides Nico on walks and hikes.

    I brought them on their first hike together about 2 weeks ago. It was one of the longest and hardest hikes around the area and they did great, no complaints there. They also met 3 new doggy friends (our friends) and had loads of fun. BTW, this was on leash hiking.

    Past forward 2 weeks to yesterday, we brought them on a second hike that was much shorter and easier. The terrain was about the same, dry grass area with a clear trail. Our friends and their 3 dogs (boston terrier and 2 maltipoos) came along too. Their dogs are always off leash when we are hiking so my girlfriend and I decided we should start letting them off leash since the area was just hills and grass and the trail was clear. We thought Nico and Yubi would just stick around the other dogs on the hike. We initially kept the leash on them just to be safe. 10 minutes go by, they stuck pretty close to us and we took the leash off them. As we progressed on our hike, Nico was always in front of the pack and being a scout dog. This should've set off many alarms to me... The longer we hiked, the more comfortable Nico was with going further ahead and he tested my limits.

    He eventually went off trail and Yubi followed him. They were just playing and chasing each other around and both went down a hillside slope. By the time I ran off the trail and to the side to see where they were going, both were nowhere to be found. We screamed both their names and it echoed. No response but after about 2 minutes of searching the area, I saw Yubi come running up a small paved trail towards us. We leashed her but Nico was still nowhere to be found. We ran in the direction Yubi came from and saw Nico at the bottom of the hill. Ran to him while he was taking his dump and leashed him back.

    This was one of the scariest moments I've ever encountered with these two. I've read many posts they're not off leash dogs but thought it would be better with other of their friends around. Boy was I wrong. Nico, being the adventurous Shiba, always wanted to explore. During the hike, Yubi always ran back to us every once in a while and ran back to Nico. She's only 16 weeks so I'm looking to train her to come back on command, in hopes of off leashing her in the future. Don't know about Nico though.

    [mod edit: changed category]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2017-10-25 12:02:30
  • AnjyilAnjyil
    Posts: 720
    I feel ya. Had a similar scare this weekend, too--this one was not my choice, though. Yeah, unless you have been working really hard on their recall and off leash, just don't do it--no matter what. Still..have to say: start training now. She is perfectly capable of it (was even at two-three months). Shiba are easily distracted (hunting drive) and some personalities are not good for off leash. Yubi seems like she will take to it easily, though. Nico might need more work, though.
  • BootzBootz
    Posts: 3492
    Training a shiba while their young is a good foundation. But you won't really know if they're good offleash til around 2.5 years old or later after they past their teenage/rebellious phase and mature.

    A lot of owners think "hey I can call them if there was no distractions or if we are at home" that's not good recall. If you can't snap them out of their distractions to come back to you, then they'll most likely not be recallable.

    There has been many owners who lost their dogs at a local dog park here that has no fence and is by the beach. Don't fall for peer pressure, accept from the beginning your dog has a high chance of not being able to be offleash in a non gated environment.
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1111
    When I saw this post, I thought it was gonna be someone bragging about how great their Shibas are off leash heheh. I kinda had this fear like ooohh this perfect story of off leash Shibas is gonna give false hope to people who want their Shibas to be off leash. I'm always kinda hesitant to trust when someone says their shiba is great off leash. I know the vast majority of people don't put in the time and effort for all the extensive off leash training. I dislike that attitude with the approach to any breed of dog, but with Shibas it can be especially dangerous.

    Not trying to say you were foolish. I have no idea what kind of training you've done. And sounds like you just wanted to have a relaxing hike with your pups. I've often thought that if I were taking Ozzy hiking with a friend and their dog, he would stick right by the other dog. And your experience sounds so terrifying. Very glad it all turned out okay.

    Ozzy is almost 2, and I've barely started trying to let him hike more off leash. I've done tons of training, and his recall is still not great hahah. I doubt that any amount of practice will really get him there. He knows if he comes to me, there is a big reward and it's great! But that will always come second to chasing squirrels, playing with other dogs, greeting unknown humans... I can't win that competition for his focus.

    We did a 25 mile steep hike up a mountain a couple months ago (my toes are literally still bruised black :(( ), and I let Ozzy drag a 6 foot leash and put a bell on his harness. He stayed right by us the entire time. He was so perfect. He would sit and stay when asked, he would come, he passed a couple of dogs and several people without becoming excited or wanting to follow them.

    More recently, we hiked like a short 6 mile loop and I had the same setup... dragging a 6 foot leash and had the bell on his harness. He did pretty good. But after a trail runner passed us by, he wanted to stick with them and see what they were up to. We held his leash for a bit. When we let him go, he just kind of walked quickly in their direction and kept slowly getting further and further. When he was just about out of sight, I told him "this way," which is the queue I use during walks when we're changing direction, and I just turned around and started walking back the way we came. It took him a good 30 seconds of deliberation, but he finally turned and started following me. Then I held his leash for the rest of the hike. I could definitely tell he was in the mood to explore and not in the mood to listen haha. I'm really cautious about off leash, but I would love if I could just be hiking free without a leash being in the way. But we are not there yet. I'm not sure if we ever will be. That is okay with me. I'd rather deal with a leash and always have my pup by my side.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. And again, glad it all turned out fine. Thank goodness for that perfectly timed poop. :))
    Post edited by Lilikoi at 2017-10-24 06:49:11
  • NicoNico
    Posts: 12
    This post was never meant to brag, just to share my experience so others will not follow suit. I figured Nico would be the better than that after being with me for 2 years but he's definitely not afraid to get lost, and adventurous.

    I heard Shibas were a clean breed. Not these two. Nico jumped into a big, wet pile of mud right off the trail and a little creek with rocks and dirt. Came back both times covering their whole leg in mud. Yubi followed as well...
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1111
    @Nico - of course it wasn't to brag haha, that's clear. I just had this slight fear when I saw the title cus I've seen plenty of posts where people come to disprove the theory that Shibas are not good off leash dogs haha. And I worry that it encourages less informed people to just go ahead and try off leash. But I'm glad you shared your much more realistic story.

    Lol, Ozzy is a princess about cleanliness. :)) he hates mud and puddles, and stays surprisingly pretty clean on hikes. He does seem to kinda give up his stay clean rules when hiking though. He can be a little more carefree and will just walk through a puddle every once in a while. He would never do that on a normal walk. :))
  • ObizaObiza
    Posts: 63
    We got really lucky with Rusty. I have a feeling he was raised in a ranch setting so he was probably never leashed growing up. He’s much more of a monitor his turf and stay close to his humans type of dog. We’re also pretty sure his other half is a herding breed so that probably helps with the recall. He still has the shiba prey drive though.

    I remember when we first got him and I was getting everything set up in his dog run back before it was attached to our garage. I would always let him follow me in the yard because he never strayed far and all of a sudden he froze and before I could open my mouth he was gone sprinting into the woods behind our lot. I wandered around the block in the dark calling for him before walking back to the house and calling my husband to say I needed backup when low and behold he came trotting down the street. So now if I notice him freeze or suddenly have an alert stance I call his name immediately to break his concentration because once he’s on the chase he’s not listening.

    Fortunately we finally finished our backyard fence a couple weeks ago. Rusty was so used to the smaller run off the garage that he didn’t realize he had the full yard to explore the first few days :)) I’m fairly confident he’s figured it out now since I’m finding burrs in his tail from the wooded part of our lot. :((

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