How to train your dog for off-leash hiking

Off-leash hiking is one of the best ways to let dogs be dogs. They are in nature, sniffing and running as they want, making their own choices.

On the human side, time off-leash strengthens our bonds with our dogs. We take joy in their enjoyment of the hike. Our dogs recognize that this is a shared experience and appreciate what we are giving to them. Without the leash to join us, we are nonetheless connected, aware of each other’s movements and locations.

A dog and owner walking in the snow A dog walking off leash along a muddy path Five dogs wading in a pond in the forest Two dogs sitting on a log in the forest

In a series of posts on, I shared my experience training my dog for off-leash hiking, including how to build trust with your dog, keep him safe and respect other hikers and the environment. The goal of the series is to educate people about the rewards of off-leash hiking, help people grow their confidence to unclip the leash and allow more dogs to be dogs.

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