If you’re a keen walker, you’ll have a lot of fun with a four-legged friend alongside, but you might be looking at your dachshund and wondering whether it really needs the leash. Do dachshunds manage to walk safely by their owners, or do you need to use a leash to make sure your dog stays close?
Dachshunds need to be kept on a leash in most situations. If your dachshund is very well trained and obedient, you may be able to walk with it off the leash safely in some circumstances, but you need to be careful doing so and not take risks. Always have your dachshund on a leash when in a busy area, a new place, or near roads.
Why Do Dachshunds Need To Be Kept On Leashes?
Dachshunds are great dogs, but they have a high prey drive. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, so this drive has been selectively bred, and it is very much an ingrained instinct.
With many (although not all) dachshunds, no amount of training you do will override that instinct, because it engages before other parts of the dog’s brain.
That means even if your dachshund usually comes when you call it, it might not do so if it sees something to chase. You never know when a squirrel, mouse, rat, cat, or other fast and small creature might cross your path, and if your dachshund goes tearing off after it, you are unlikely to be able to get it back quickly.
Your dachshund may then get lost, run into a road, get picked up by a stranger, or get into a confrontation with a large dog. You won’t be able to keep up with a running dachshund, so you’ll quickly lose it, and this could result in a permanent loss if you are unlucky.
When on a leash, the dachshund is kept safe from this sort of disaster. It may try to rush off after something, but you can ensure that it stays close to you, away from traffic, people, or other potential threats.
What If I Want My Dog To Run Free?
If you want your dog to have some freedom to play, explore, and run about, you may not like the idea of keeping it on a leash full time. After all, where’s the fun in that?
If you don’t have your own yard for your dog to play in, what are your options?
Firstly, consider whether you can take your dog to playdates with a friend who has a yard. Your dog may really enjoy this, and it is an opportunity for it to play and socialize without being on a leash.
It also allows you time to observe how your dog behaves while free and outdoors. Make the most of this to assess its behavior and recall if you would like to eventually let it off the leash. You might be able to use a friend’s yard for practicing with your dog if possible.
However, you might not know a suitable friend. Is there any public space that is suitable for letting your dog off the leash? The best answer is probably a local park, as long as it is a good distance from roads.
You should try to go when the park is quiet, so there’s less chance of your dachshund encountering other dogs or children that it might try and chase. Find out when the park is quiet, and then try a test walk and see how it goes.
Don’t ever let your dog off its leash when you’re near the edges of the park, as there could be busy roads, and dachshunds are not good at handling traffic. If your dog runs, you want a good chance of being able to recover it before it reaches any moving vehicles, so think about this before taking off the leash.
You should spend a lot of time walking in the area with the dog’s leash on first, so both you and your dog are used to the surroundings. This may help you both out if the dog does get lost, and might also give you more chance of following it.
What Else Should I Do?
The most important thing you can do before you even think about letting your dachshund off its leash is to work on a recall command. This should be done intensely, with regular repetition and lots of treats to get the best possible results.
Begin working on your “come” command as soon as you get your dachshund, and keep working on it. Don’t let up, even if you aren’t using the command in reality. You need to be able to get extremely good results before you let your dog roam free, so repeat it over and over again.
You should also “stress test” the command while safely at home. If you have this in a yard, try it outdoors. If not, you should still be able to practice inside. See what level of distraction your dog can manage to break away from to obey your command.
If your dog has a treat, does it still come to your call? If it has a new toy? If it is playing with a friend? If it is eating its supper?
You need to know that your dog will come back to you in the park, even if it has found food, a stick, or a new friend to play with (or a dog to fight). Test this repeatedly in your home before deciding your dog is safe to be let off the leash.
It’s also a good idea to get your dachshund neutered and microchipped before you risk it off the leash. An unneutered dog is a big liability with lots of incentive to run off. A microchip will increase the chances of you getting the dog back if you do lose it.
On the whole, most dachshunds should be kept on the leash when in public. Their high prey drive and vulnerability to theft, traffic accidents, and larger dogs make them at-risk when off the leash and away from you.