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Shibas off leash...fact or fiction
  • midranger4midranger4
    Posts: 59
    I had German Shepard dogs my entire life until I fell for my babies Max and Maya.

    I always took the time to teach my German Shepard dogs to walk off leash, know there boundaries when let out front, etc. GSDs are highly intelligent and easily taught if love, patience, and positive reinforcement techniques are observed.

    I was told before obtaining my Shibas to not expect similar results when attempting to teach Shibas to walk off leash or be left to roam freely on the property with the expectation they would stay put.

    I am about four years in now and while I do not do it regularly I have unclipped both my Shibas and let them run in open fields on occasion. I also let them both out front, supervised, and while they test their limits on occasion they remain on the front yard. They travel to and from the car without leashes when we are taking a road trip an wait to be clipped when the exit the car in a strange or new location like the park, lake, or friends home.

    All bets are off though if a rabbit happens by but most all dogs have the chase instinct so I don't find it unique to

    Here is my question. Do you allow your Shiba off leash?

    Is the myth indeed fact and are Shibas not to be trusted off leash?

    Just curious as my experience is I can let them off leash but I remain very wary and subsequently diligent when they are. My GSD dogs I could let off leash and not worry at all about a potential bolting incident.
    Post edited by Sangmort at 2011-09-21 01:16:38
  • MikadoMikado
    Posts: 47
    I think there can always be exceptions to the rule, but for me, I would not ever take the risk. Since they are prone to wanderlust with a pretty high prey drive, it always seems like a good idea until "that ONE time"... unfortunately once is all it might take for an accident to happen. I have had "off leash" dogs before (not Shiba's), but only ever dogs that obeyed verbal (and even non verbal) commands immediately and without question or hesitation 100% of the time... is that even possible with a Shiba? :)
    Post edited by Mikado at 2011-07-23 03:22:15
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • mcsassymcsassy
    Posts: 339
  • We let Chiba off the leash one time because he was distracted and playing with our neighbor's puppy. My boyfriend thought it would be okay because the other puppy was keeping him busy, but as soon as he knew that he was free, he took off. We had never seen him run so fast - he BOLTED up our street and right across the main road...RIGHT in front of a car. My boyfriend was thankfully fast enough to get to the road right as the car was coming and wave his arms and the car swerved and missed Chiba - but Chiba was hunkered down, preparing to be hit. He continued to run and then slowed up a bit and my boyfriend cornered him and picked him up. It was one of the scariest things I've ever experienced and we will NEVER EVER let him off the leash again. I'm almost glad that it happened because now we will never be complacent about it or try it "just to see" - because that ONE time, we might not be so lucky.

    He bolted out the door once as well, going in the opposite direction towards ANOTHER road and I chased him and then got his attention, ran the other way, and he started chasing me (I learned that from this forum!) - so it worked like a charm. However, the time that I mentioned above - he was absolutely GONE before we could even blink an eye - we screamed his name to no avail. I thought he was a goner. Another time, soon after the scary time, my boyfriend's niece was walking him, and as we went to show her how to tie his leash to her hand so he couldn't escape, he ran away AGAIN, up into some woods - we really never would have seen him again if that happened - it was in a HUGE park.

    So needless to say - We do NOT trust our shiba (and NEVER will) to be off the leash. Our scares were way too scary and took about a year off of my life, and I just can't risk it again. We are very diligent now. It even feels weird to let him off the leash at the dog park - it felt very odd and I felt vulnerable, haha. Anyway, just wanted to share my story.
  • ljowen123ljowen123
    Posts: 3105
  • plasmodiumplasmodium
    Posts: 130
    My shiba has pretty extreme prey drive, and as such can't really be trusted off leash. :(
    Posts: 1507
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
  • midranger4midranger4
    Posts: 59
    Thanks for the comments. When I let them off leash I always hold my breathe but have been fortunate thus far. Maya will break off a prey chase if I sternly yell her name. Max, being a typical male like myself hears perfectly but has selective listening skills. He will continue a prey chase until the third or fourth command to break it off. He has never run off on me but will go as far from me as my eyes can see and I presume as far as he can maintain a sight line with me.

    Yard behavior is more important to me. The back is fenced in so little worries there but I enjoy having them out front if washing the car or just sitting on the bench relaxing. Both are very good in this way. They lay on the yard after they are done exploring and will remain there for long periods of time. When I head for the front door they mosey on over behind me and follow me in. People passing by on foot will prompt them to go to the sidewalk seeking attention and such which I find normal. If however someone approaches with a dog in tow I know immediately because Maya starts barking but does not bolt which gives me time to put them inside before a closer encounter can happen. I do not trust Maya nearly enough to push that envelope.
  • TengaiTengai
    Posts: 275
    fact and fiction! You have to know your dogs. I also was raised with GSD's found it hard to believe any dog wouldn't listen as well as them! I have 2 that are reliable off leash. A third who we wnt to the beach with and let him go with one of the girls who is 100% reliable, but would'nt do it with him alone. I noticed as they get older(2 yrs or so) the wander lust is less intence so they listen better.
    In general I say no to off leash to most shibas
  • Every Saturday and Sunday I take Akai to an off-leash dog park. It is fenced in most of the way around the park. The park is partly surrounded by hills too, so staying down in the park is safer. Akai has never run away. He runs and chases other dogs, but always comes back to me to rest and for water and treats. Most of the time he is with me on the picnic table resting. He does have a high prey drive, but since there are always dogs around, I hardly see a squirrel! He is actually giving up on squirrels - he has noticed that he cannot climb trees. He is still interested in the rabbits, but those only come out at night.

    I think the novelty of being off leash wore off a long time ago and he is used to our routine. When I want to leave the park, I say "Bye Akai" and he comes flying to me as if I would leave him there.

    Every dog is different and I do watch him like a hawk because I know he is aloof and independent. He does test me sometimes, but I just spend more time reinforcing commands.
  • MegaenMegaen
    Posts: 265
    I wouldn't trust my shibas off leash unless it was inside a fenced area... Lena and Toshiro both have a high prey drive.
  • midranger4midranger4
    Posts: 59
    I know another animal would cause both to initially bolt if I walked them off leash but what I can, and have gotten away with is walking them around the block without a leash but only a few times and it was in the wee hours of the morning (3 am or so) when the neighborhood is quiet and critters have pretty much finished their nighttime feeding. Most chuckle at me because I superglued two battery powered red strobe lights each to their harnesses (one on the top of the neck the other square in the chest) so should they ever do get loose I have a better chance of keeping them in sight. I suppose it does look silly to some but I think it gives drivers a better chance to see them if by chance they get loose on me while walking at night or we are crossing the street. Max in particular is practically invisible in the dark of night and it's he that prompted me in the first place to mcGyver the harnesses.

    The strangest look I received was when for a kick I placed them in the bike trailer that is normally used on my grandchildren and took them for a cruise around the neighborhood. Max and Maya enjoyed the ride and I was officially certified a nut job by my daughters!
  • McYogiMcYogi
    Posts: 518
  • Lil_WashuLil_Washu
    Posts: 44
    IDK how Inara is off lead.
    The boyfriend thinks I should let her off all the time and that just results in death glares from me - he doesn't understand :P

    I like to work in small steps, and I think having four other dogs that can go off leash help in terms of ~*~peer pressure~*~ lol. So at the moment we're just doing small things, like going from the car to the house without a leash. When we were out of town, at my grandparents, it was for short potty breaks around the house.

    She does have a prey drive, but I'm not sure how high it really is. She's killed two of my rabbits before, but being domesticated and used to dogs that wasn't entirely too hard for her to accomplish (they got out of their hutch overnight, boyfriend is lazy and doesn't check the yard before letting the dogs out... :P). I let her out of the car one day and she shot across the yard chasing a wild bunny, but as soon as it was out of sight she came back. Yesterday I had another rabbit die (not entirely sure of what, she was a older doe and I only had her for less than a month) and I morbidly let Inara play with the body just to see what I was "dealing" with. She would let go of it when I said enough, it was very easy to take it away from her, and she lost interest in it easily, so I imagine she could be controllable off lead with a ton of work. Just have to make the coming back to me more enjoyable than chasing the critter you'll never catch LOL.

    I do know, however, that her co-breeder does agility and obedience with her Shibas - most of which through linebreeding are all related to Inara.
    She likes having titles on both ends of the dog's registered names.
    I would hope that says something about her breeding, but idk, time will tell I guess.
    Post edited by Lil_Washu at 2011-07-24 15:07:58
  • britkotsubritkotsu
    Posts: 210
    Kishi has such a high prey drive. She would never come back without me waiving around some really awesome food! Only in a fence.
  • mattzmattz
    Posts: 418
    I love this thread!! I, too, heard from the beginning that Shibas were most likely not to be off leash breeds.

    My Etsuko IS an off-leash dog!!! Every day, on both of her walks, I take her to a park and let her roam free. There is almost NEVER anyone in the park but us, so it works to my advantage. By letting her walk off leash, I feel that her obedience has increased. She comes when I call her, she stops when I ask her to, she knows she isn't allowed in the street off-leash WHATSOEVER and at times she even "waits up" for me if she gets too far ahead it's SUPER cute. She will run a little bit, then while running throw her head back and see where I'm at... She'll wait a moment, then hop off into another dash around the park.

    It took me about 3 months to learn, teach and help Etsuko understand her new set of rules and the boundaries associated with her off leash walks. Now, there are exceptions to this rule. As stated above, if she sees a rabbit or a bird, she's off... In this case, I run to catch up to her as best I can and try to distract her with treats. Thus far, it has worked out for me 100% of the time; I usually catch her and put her back on leash for the next few minutes just to re-direct her, then I let her off leash again. The key is, as stated above, to never become complacent. Every time I walk her, I'm ready to run my heart out to catch up to her. What I DO KNOW is that she will never run away, she will always come back to me. What I don't know (and no one ever will) are the "You never know what can happen" things...

    Etsuko is also allowed to walk off-leash anywhere in our yard, front or back, as long as I'm around to communicate with her.

    I'll try to get a video up of her running free, it's great! I had two friends from Japan stay with me in May and they were AMAZED to see her running so freely and happily, it was great!
  • LovingLolaLovingLola
    Posts: 31
    I have seen several shibas at the dog park and even one on the street (BAD IDEA!!) off leash who seem to behave perfectly well. I how ever haven't reached that point of trust with Lola - I have let her off leash twice and twice have had to chase her down in a sheer panic. A lot more training will be required before we are ready to take that step.

    Also - I dont think it is a just a shiba thing. I see plenty of other stubborn dogs at the park who love to lead thier people on high speed chases on occasion. Seeing other stubborn dogs is strangely comforting. It makes me feel like, whew! Lola is not the only one with selective listening and maybe it IS normal! LOL
  • mattzmattz
    Posts: 418
    Yes, it is COMPLETELY normal! One other thing, when we are off-leash walking and Etsuko is being PAINSTAKINGLY unresponsive and stubborn, I put her on-leash and continue her walk as normal. I think this method has helped her understand her privileges and that I control them concerning her off-leash time.
  • RSierackiRSieracki
    Posts: 96
    We have had two cases where Ginger got off the leash or out the door and it was absolutely terrifying! The first was when she was about 5 months old and we were walking her. Somehow the leash came unclipped from her harness and she was just trotting along our usual walking path until she came to her pee stop. We were able to clip it back on once she stopped to pee- I'm not even sure she realized it was off. The second time was absolutely horrible. We were over our friends' apartment and Ginger was off leash playing with their dogs. Another guest came in unexpectedly and opened the door. Well Ginger saw a glimpse of the other side and took off down 2 flights of steps and out in the open. She went flying! Between all 5 of us, it took us almost an hour to get her back in and it required us to corner her. No amount of begging, asking or treats would get her to come to one of us. We have a fenced in backyard that Ginger plays in and she will not come in when we call her, so I know if she ever gets off leash out in the open again, she will not come in when called. It's the stuff that keeps a Shiba mom up at night!
  • bobc33bobc33
    Posts: 287
    For me off leash is never considered.

    Shadow has a limited recall and not a very high prey instinct, but the one time he got free he immediately headed for the hills and we were lucky he stopped to smell something interesting after quickly covering a 3rd of a mile or so.

    Scout has zero recall and an extremely high prey drive. She got free once and immediately bolted down the end of the street and off into the woods. Half the neighborhood turned out to help me, and in a driving rainstorm slugging through mud and marsh we finally got her, but only because a river had boxed her in and she couldn't go any further.

    Admitedly my two are not well trained, but it scares the daylights out of me to think of them off leash. Yet I have a friend in the area who lets her Shiba run free at the local park with no fence. She does say sometimes it takes forever to get her to come when play is over. Another friend had his Shiba get loose and they spent six days and nights tracking him in the dead of a New England winter.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 5171
  • Indy could be an off-leash boy, but we would rather not take the risk of him being distracted by a "baby". Indiana (if you are getting confused, his nickname is Indy) loves "babies" or puppies! When we take him on walks, we occasionally take the leash off and allow him to walk up to the door from the driveway. However, this does make me pretty antsy... If he were to run, we could easily catch him considering he is an older boy.

    Sage on the other hand... could never be an off-leash dog. She is more like the typical Shiba. Sage will run. That is why Sage would never be treated as an off-leash dog like Indy is occasionally. Perhaps when our dogs are older, considering Indy is already 6, he can be trusty.

    For me, I say no... too risky! The first week we had Indy, (years and years ago...) we took him to a park and let him be off-leash. After 20 minutes of chasing the overly-excited dog around the park...we didn't do that again for years, and I mean YEARS.
  • lucylulucylu
    Posts: 500
    There is a dog park near us that has fields, rivers, trails, elevation, etc and we can take Lucy off the lead there and she never goes more than 30 yards or so away from us. We just keep walking and she follows along. However, that is the only place I'd take her off lead. I think she'd do the same anywhere else we go, but the difference is that there are busy streets everywhere else. No doubt she'd get hit by a car.
  • I don't think I'm ever going to try. She already found a place in the fence where she can get out, and that is just to the grassy side path along the house. the first time she got through to there, I almost had a heart attack just in the few seconds it took to open the fence and reach her. she is only 8 weeks old and not very fast, but it was terrifying
  • Akio will be 9 months tomorrow and he took his entire evening walk off the leash tonight. :D I was so proud. We did hold him for a passing vehicle since they scare him and around blind corners, but he did so good. At the end of the walk we didn't even have to tell him to hold because he was getting to far he kinda figured his limit out and would turn around waiting for us. I of course was nervous as could be, but he surprised me. I think he's too lazy to have a prey drive unless it's a leaf. He doesn't care about the bunnies or squirrels he see, but if there is a leaf blowing in the wind it's game on!

    Anyways, just thought I'd share our Shiba off the leash experience. :)
  • I let Signey off leash at the beach, and the park if I can and its away from a street. Once she hit about 2 and a half years old, she became much more obedient and she pretty much always comes when she's called, and if she doesn't, when I come to get her she doesn't run from me. She also walks with me off leash around our house, from the house to the car, and from the car through the parking lot to work. I always make her "sit" and "wait" once she jumps out of the car, and before we cross from the parking spaces to the front of the shop. However I always look around to make sure there are no animals or distractions, and I stay alert to our surroundings. If I feel like she's in a particularly stubborn mood, I walk her with a leash or carry her. I also never allow her off leash in an area we haven't first explored on-leash.
  • mcsassymcsassy
    Posts: 339
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • I live in Florida and haven't seen anywhere that there is a leash law. I've seen multiple people with dogs off the leash esp. at the beach.
  • I am posting from a bed as I blew my left knee out on Thursday....walking Max and Maya.

    Both were leashed, on this day I chose to use my coupler as my grandson was walking with us and doing so gave me a free hand to hold his.

    As fate would have it we were walking along when I spotted two small dogs and a full grown German Shepard scout fifty yards ahead on the other side of the street. All three dogs were outside with their owner and off leash. I spotted them before Max and Maya did and they spotted us. I made eye contact with the owner and stopped walking and he motioned and I saw the GSD head up the yard and out of sight and I was correct to presume he put the dog inside. The two smaller dogs however were now entering the street and heading towards me. They were not being aggressive and I knew as much but Maya is dog aggressive, and it's the kind of aggression that can, and almost did cause other dog it's life. So as these two unsuspecting dogs approached I was quickly taking preventive measures while screaming for this guy to call his dogs, his reply....."it's ok they are friendly" to which I screamed "well this one ISN'T!"

    I realized quickly this was not going to go well. I released my grandson who is four years old and quickly backtracked as quickly as possible as the other dogs closed in. When they got within ten feet I raised both Max and Maya off the ground simultaneously by shortening the retractable leash to it's shortest length, locking it in place and lifting above my head. Both my dogs were wading a harness so lifting them inn this manner caused them no harm....however Murphy's law decided to intervene and Maya slipped out of her harness and to the ground. By this time the unwelcome dogs were under my feet. I really do not know what I did next it happened so fast. Maya was heading for one of the dogs, and very aggressively so I released the leash and lunged for her. I tackled her within mere inches of her engaging one of the dogs. I held her down while Max drug the leash and coupler into the street. Max was not a concern, he is very social. Thankfully the two dogs decided Max was more accessible and joined him in the street. fINALLY the owner appeared as I was on the ground holding Maya and he looked at me and asked "Is there a problem". It took every ounce of restraint I could muster to not flip out and all I said, in a not so friendly tone was "Hand me the leash already". He handed it to me and I harnessed Maya and when I finished and looked up poof he and his dogs were gone. I looked to the house they came from and saw the door closing.

    I stood up, and immediately fell down. I tried to stand again and realized my left knee was hurting but I struggled to my feet, grabbed my grandson who was horrified by the way and turned back for home. Within a hour I knew I screwed my knee up good because it was swollen bigtime and range of motion was zero. So here j am three days later wearing an immobilizer, taking pain meds like candy, and hoping the knee is merely bruised rather than ligament damage.

    As j said in my posts in this thread I have had my dogs off leash a couple times and have been fortunate but this encounter has taught me that even if you take every precaution the possibility exists for the unexpected to happen. I was not and am not upset with these two strange dogs, they did what is natural,the owner however must have thought by removing the large dog from the equation he ran no risk of his animals harming mine. What he didn't consider was the reverse as evidenced by his remark when retrieving them.

    I cannot afford to lose Max or Maya at all let alone unnecessarily. We share a wonderful life together and one that now no longer includes roaming the front yard without a leash or any off leash adventures for that matter. While my knee hurts it will heal. All I could think about after is what I the situation were reversed and Maya bolted from the yard and engaged an on leash dog and caused it or the owner harm? I'm sure I would have little trouble finding a lawye that would love nothing more than to wreck this guys life. I have no interest in doing so but had the situation been reversed I'd be looking for a lawyer not to sue but rather defend against one.

    I will see thing guy at the block party next week and intend to talk to him. He could have at least made sure my grandson and me were ok but he just took his dogs and vanished. If my knee does not improve and I incur any out of pocket expenses I will expect him to cover them. Other than that it's a wash. I learned a valuable lesson and Max, Maya and myself will never have to worry about something like this happening to us because I've done a 180 on the off leash concept. The dogs don't need it, I don't need it, and all three of us don't need to give someone reason to come after us no matter how remote the chance. I like zero chance going forward.
  • I live in a really dog friendly area (and it's slowly becoming more dog friendly, yay!) so there are tons of places to take my dog off leash. A lot of the big outdoor shopping and dining places allow people to bring their dogs and leave water bowls outside. There are even a bunch of restaurants around here that allow you to eat on the patio with your dog. There's a dog park in nearly every city, and two dog beaches that I know of. And around my neighborhood, there are a couple of people that walk their dogs without leashes, but the dogs are well behaved and the two police officers that live around here never say anything to anyone. Personally, there are too many aggressive dogs in our neighborhood for me to feel comfortable walking Signey off leash here though.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
  • Thanks for the well wishes. Knee still very sore but improving, I believe I banged it and bruised it on the sidewalk. Well at least that's what I believe after self diagnosis on webmd. Seems everyone has such crappy health care these days that is designed to strongly discourage treatment outside normal doctor visits.

    Oh well live and learn. I have noticed this neighborhood is something out of bizzaroland when it comes to dogs. This was far from the first I've had unwelcome encounters with off leash dogs, just the first time there have been repurcussions. In twenty plus years I never had a single incident with an off leash dog at my previous address. Also seems, and it's likely me, that many dogs in this neighborhood are bonkers, going nuts at fences, knocking curtains, plants, all kinds of stuff when indoors, alone, and we walk by. Max and Maya could care less when indoors and someone walks by with their dog. Sure they look but they dont go cujo on me!

    Have a good one everyone!

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