Your rough collie is great on the leash. She’s calm, stays at your side, and doesn’t pull. You might be wondering if she needs the leash at all.
Many rough collies can be great off leash, but there are still many factors to consider before letting your dog roam.
With extensive training and time, rough collies can be good off-leash. They are less likely to run or chase other animals, but their herding instinct might make them wonder. However, teaching your collie key phrases and commands can guide them while they are off-leash.
Below, we’ll look at how you can take your rough collie off-leash, as well as training tips for keeping them at your side.
Taking Your Rough Collie Off-Leash
Taking your tough collie off-leash can be stressful. There are a lot of factors to consider, including your dog’s personality and how they will act around cars, other animals, and other people.
Even outside of the normal considerations with dogs, rough collies have additional breed traits to worry about. They are herding dogs, so there is always a chance they will roam.
However, their herding background can also come in handy when training them to behave off-leash.
Herding isn’t an activity you can perform while leashed. Because of this instinct, rough collies will roam – but they will also be calmer on the whole than prey-driven dogs or hunting breeds.
Of course, you must consider your rough collie’s personality. Though rough collies are not hunting dogs, some do have a prey drive and can easily get away from you. Training can help, but certain dogs should never be let off-leash regardless of breed.
Check Out this Related Article: Do Rough Collies Like Water? – Can They Swim?
The Rough Collie Temperament: Understanding Behavior
Rough collies are one of two types of collies. As you can guess, their coats are dense, straight, and long. Rough collies are characterized by the coarse outer coat, which is missing in their smooth collie counterparts.
Therefore, a rough collie has nearly the same temperament as a smooth collie. The only difference here is the length and type of coat.
Regardless of what type of collie you have, their temperaments on a breed level are the same. They are known for being amazing family dogs, with their calm, nurturing demeanor.
However, they also require lots of exercises. They love to run, which might present a problem when taking them off-leash.
However, they are also extremely intelligent. Often, this is to the point of being stubborn. They are easy to train and pick up lessons quickly and easily, as they are eager to please.
Training can help bring out the parts of their temperament that make them ideal for off-leash walks, play, and even hiking.
Will Rough Collies Run Away?
Your rough collie may run away when you take them off-leash. This isn’t because they are prone to taking off, but because of their natural herding instinct.
Of course, this is one of those behaviors that you can train them out of. Below, we’ll look at methods for training your collie so that they don’t run, and instead stay by your side.
However, you must also consider your dog’s personality, including any prey drive you may have witnessed. A good way to test how your dog will react is to take them to a dog park.
These off-leash parks can help you observe what your dog will do once the leash is gone. They are usually well-fenced, controlled areas where dogs can roam with other dogs, so it’s great for socializing your under-socialized collie as well.
Even with extensive work and professional training, you can never guarantee that your dog won’t run away. Just know that rough collies are less likely to do this than other dogs.
The more training and work you put into them, the better your chances of having them stay by your side.
Read this Related Article: When Do Rough Collies Calm Down?
Can You Trust Your Dog?
Trusting your dog in off-leash situations can be tricky. There are a few steps you can take to strengthen your trust in your dog. However, there is still no way to know how they will act off-leash in every situation.
Start by taking the following steps:
Enrolling in training. If you don’t have time to train your collie to act the way you want to, you should enroll them in professional training. A handler might be able to direct your collie towards the proper behaviors better than you can.
Take time for personal sessions. Make sure that you spend a lot of time with your collie. Train them to do what you want. Collies can be stubborn, but they also earn the approval of their favorite humans.
Teach key commands. As we’ll learn when we discuss how you can train your collie to behave favorably off-leash, key commands are essential. Teach your collie a few commands that they will follow without question. This will help you maintain some control over their behavior off-leash.
Once you learn to trust your dog a little more, it can be easier to take the step towards letting them off-leash.
Benefits of Letting Your Collie Off-Leash
There are certain benefits to removing the leash. Letting your dog walk with you can be great for both of you, and your dog might just thrive in a more relaxed environment.
Other ‘pros’ of keeping your dog off leash include:
- Relaxation. Your dog is more relaxed when off-leash. They will be able to move freely. Even if your dog is extremely comfortable on a leash, they know when their movements are being restricted. Leash-free, they are much more comfortable.
- Attentive Listening. If your dog has been trained to listen while off-leash, they will listen better while you are out on a walk. This extra training strengthens the bond between you and makes your dog more attentive to commands.
- More Exercise. Dogs can run and play more off-leash. If you aren’t planning on keeping up with them as they run, letting them off the leash is great. They’ll get the exercise they need and wear themselves out in the process.
- Companionship. Once your dog has been trained to be off-leash, they become your companion. You can do a lot of things together, including hiking, jogging, and more. These activities are easier and more fun when you don’t have to worry about the leash.
- Collies Probably Won’t Hunt. Collies have a low prey drive, so they are less likely to chase critters or small animals.
However, while they are loyal, they are also friendly. Be prepared to call them away from other people and pets.
There are other benefits to keeping your dog off-leash, of course. It also depends on your dog. Some dogs do much better off-leash, while others don’t like it at all.
Drawbacks of Letting Your Collie Off Leash
While considering if you can let your rough collie off leash, it’s important to consider the worst possible scenario. Not all dogs will be okay with being off leash, and collies may present certain breed-specific instincts.
- Discipline. It could be that your dog has associated the leash with behaving. If you start taking them out without one, they might decide to stop listening to you, or that freedom means that they don’t have to respond.
- Roaming. Collies love to roam. It’s part of their herding instinct to survey their surroundings, and they do this best by scouting them out. Unless you have specifically trained your collie not to leave your side, they may be tempted to wander.
- Bad Behavior. Collies are friendly by nature. Even a well-trained collie might decide to take off to greet another dog, or to say hello to a human. Likewise, even a collie without a prey instinct may still chase smaller animals.
- Trouble. Unfortunately, a dog who is too boisterous off-leash could get into trouble. On walks, they may unknowingly venture in front of cars or get into dangerous situations. Keeping your dog on a leash may help keep them safe.
Training Your Rough Collie to Behave Off-Leash
Of course, your rough collie isn’t going to be perfectly well-behaved the first time you let them off-leash. No dog would be. Though rough collies are intelligent, loyal, and easy to train, they still require some training to behave properly when they aren’t leashed.
But how do you train them not to herd every person and critter they come across?
1. Start with Play
Experts agree that incorporating recall games while playing with your collie can be a great first step. Teaching your collie to come to you during play can reinforce their recall instincts when it’s time to go off leash.
Make it a pleasant experience and turn it into a game before it becomes more serious.
Always make sure to give your dog plenty of praise for coming when called but avoid giving them food as a reward. Instead, use praise and affection as a reward. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid calling your dog back to you after playing for a while.
If you do end play with a recall, your dog might begin to associate coming to you as an end to their fun.
2. Recall Work
There will be times during off leash walks when your dog will go to greet another dog or be enticed by an interesting smell.
Calling your dog back to you during these times is pointless. It can lead to your dog routinely tuning you out.
During these times when your dog isn’t going to disengage from what he’s doing, go to him. This is an important step towards reliable recall.
3. Reliable Recall
Dog trainers and experts use a ‘reliable recall’ during training, and you can carry this over during off-leash times. Make sure that you train your recall phrase often.
Use it to create a sort of trust with your dog.
Train this recall against distractions, using each training session to help your dog ignore something they’d usually entertain. Do this training with one at a time until your dog will come as soon as he is able.
4. ‘Leave Off’ Training
It’s important to train your dog to leave things alone. These commands are important for safety and can go a long way towards helping friendly collies stay at your side.
Training your dog to respond to ‘leave off’ commands can help them stay healthy and prevent accidents, so it’s an important command.
There are a few key commands that are essential for off-leash training. These include:
- Leave Off
While there are others, these are the building blocks of your dog’s obedience during off-leash adventures.
Rough collies can be great off-leash, but it may take some training to get them used to the idea. This is especially important for dogs that are friendly, prone to roam or have a prey drive.
Make sure to spend a lot of time with your collie and train them appropriately for their time off leash.
Are Rough Collies Stubborn?
Rough collies are extremely intelligent, which can lead to unsurpassed stubbornness. Because they were bred for herding, Collies are expected to make quick decisions independently of their owners.
This can often translate into a dog that only does what it sees as best. The workaround? Try to appeal to that sense of independence.
Are Rough Collies Hard to Train?
Rough collies can be remarkably easy to train. They aim to please, and they pick up on training quickly. However, they are sensitive and can react badly to negative reinforcement. Also, make sure to change it up. A bored collie is less likely to learn, and they get bored easily.
Are Rough Collies Calm?
Though personality may vary from dog to dog, rough collies are usually calm and even-tempered. They are constant, soothing companions to an owner who gives them enough attention and exercise. They also love kids and will get along well with families.
“About Collies.” Collie Rescue of Greater Illinois, http://www.collierescue.org/about-collies.aspx. Accessed 20 May 2021.
Bunzhardt, Lynn. “Off-Leash Training for Dogs.” VCA Hospitals, Veterinary Centers of America Inc. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/off-leash-training-for-dogs.
“Collie.” American Kennel Club, https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/collie/. Accessed 21 May 2021.
“Know Your Collie or Sheltie.” Tri-State Collie Rescue. https://tristatecollierescue.org/know-your-collie-or-sheltie/. Accessed 20 May 2021.