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I was wondering who lets their setter off lead in open areas (i.e. not fenced in)?  Have you had any problems with you setter taking off on you?  When did you decide that it was safe to take him/her off lead?  I have had my setter for about a month now and he is getting to the point where he responds 99% of the time when I call him, even in distracting areas like the dog park, but I am still not sure about letting him off lead in areas that are not fenced in.  I would like to know what other people's experience with this has been and any advice anyone has.

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My dogs are exercised off the lead every day, obviously in a safe open space away from traffic,,I always take youngsters out with an older one as they will learn their *MANNERS* from them..
Reuben has been off lead since 12 weeks old in fields away from roads but not necessarily fenced. He is now 13 months old and trained to come back to me using a whistle and quite often a tasty treat as reward. In areas with big distractions ie, lots of dogs and running children I use the long training line as he is not 100% reliable every day. However this is getting much better and generally for his age he doing well (I think) and even with a huge distraction he 95% of the time will turn and come back to me if I whistle. I always have to be one step ahead of him when lots of people about ie, local park and try to get his focus just as I see him looking really interested in something.
I have had two episodes when in open fields when he has spotted cows before I have and on those occassions he has ignored my whistle and been having an absolute ball chasing the cows and barking! So now i am on constant cow alert, lol.
The recall training in my view is the most important and probably something I will be working hard at for the next year or so!!!
I was always told to start the off lead training when they are very young as they don't tend to wander to far from you then and then at least you have instilled the idea in to their heads for when they reach the bolder adolescent stage.
I do wish there was a magic wand though, haha
Even in open areas our two dogs respond to recalls - surprisingly well! People always ask me "Don't setters run off?" No, they don't, not worse than any other dog anyway.

However, I wouldn't let them off the lead on pavements along the road (no dog for that matter). They are fine and sit at the kerbside, but I don't have full control of the birds (or cows LOL) on the other side of the road.

I always have some treats with me, and when they come on recall (99.9 per cent reliably) they get something nice. For me, the most important command is the "come". And if it is with treats - most important they come.

You can get your dog to stop and sit, even though he sees something exciting, but it takes time. With patience and constant repeptition to hardwire this behaviour it toook us about three months. This "Stop" command is our emergency brake when something unexpected arises such as nice little birds in a forbidden area.

It means that when you say "stop" (or use any other cue when stop is occupied already), your dog sits on his rear end until you release him. It's not the easiest command to learn, but it's as effective as the come.

Good Luck!
Yes I too use the 'wait ' command and we are getting there and hope this will become 100% reliable in the future!
I can't believe the cocker spaniel was in season and off lead! I am not sure I would have got Reuben back at all in those circumstances, so i am really impressed Finn.
We live in the depths of Kent and although Hamilton was trained to come back to a whistle being totally 'deaf' to the recall we now only exercise him in a fenced in farmer's field (with permission from the farmer). A couple of years ago Hamilton and Wellington although in a fenced in field, adjacent to a field of sheep, the 'boys' thought it would be a good game to get the sheep moving as well. About 100 sheep stampeding in one field and 2 Irish Setters running for all they were worth along the fence in the other - not a good idea!! Micawber who is 13 months and Hamilton now 6 (still 'deaf' to a recall ), we are very careful as to where they are exercised and so lucky to have the use of a fenced-in 8 acres away from sheep and cows.
Hi, we live in the wilderness near Edinburgh but lots of great walks for the boy and I! I have to agree with Louise as the younger you start the more dependant they are on you ....
Before I got Murphy I was told oh he will be two years before you let him off but he is now 7 months and looks for me and permission to go further without me, I say go play but I always have a tasty treat in hand with lots of praise as I call "Murphy come sit" ...
He still has and no doubt always will have his selectively deaf moments but now even when he meets a dog friend if I walk away (instead of frantic shouting) he looks and thinks (I am guessing here btw) oh Mum is off that way ..
I am always ready to go catch him but so far he is fab as long as I have something tasty .....
I guess in some ways we are lucky to have huge forest preserve dog parks here where I live. And my dog started off lead at 12 weeks. He always follows me. He does run along side the trail in the woods but always within eye sight and I call him back all the time just to keep him learning that he must come when I call. He has learned it is safer for him to be closer to our group. For a couple months he was bird crazy and would just take off after birds. He has settled down with that now and tends to not get so insane about chasing them anymore. I would trust him in a large unfenced area now that I know he comes back. But prefer to have an enclosed area for my peace of mind!

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