Walking a dog off leash can be a great bonding experience between the handler and dog. It's a great way for your dog to explore, socialize, engage and utilize all her senses while burning off energy. When deciding whether to walk your dog off leash most people consider a combination of factors including: location; potential distractions and dangers; pedestrian, animal and vehicle traffic. The off leash obedience skill level of their dog is also very important.
Hong Kong laws state all dogs, regardless of size, must be kept on a leash or under proper control in public places or face a possible fine of $10,000. Any dog weighing 20kg or more is classified as a "large" dog and additional rules apply. Outside of country parks, a large dog must be walked on a leash of not more than 2m in length in public places. As with other dogs, a large dog can be walked off leash inside country parks provided it is under control.
Unfortunately, these additional rules can be a considerable inconvenience and greatly cuts down on the off leash walking options available to owners of large dogs. As a result issues can arise. On leash walks tend to be less intensive and shorter in distance. This can lead to excess energy build up resulting in frustration and unruly destructive behaviour. Dogs unable to enjoy the benefits off leash walks provide, will have less opportunity to develop a full set of social skills.
Fortunately there is a way around this. The AFCD holds examination sessions every year, which if your large dog passes, allows it to walk off leash in public places.
Below is a summarized version of the exam from the AFCD website:
Assessment of temperament
A veterinary assessment of temperament will be conducted according to the protocol established by the Australian RSPCA. The assessment will be done by AFCD’s Veterinary Officer in the absence of the dog owner.
Bring the dog being tested to another dog which is separated by wired fencing to assess its reaction.
Dogs with one or more "unacceptable" results or more than four "borderline" results in this test 1 will not pass.
Test 2 - Assessment of control
This test will be conducted in a circuit approximately 160 metres in length. The owner is required to walk around the circuit once with his dog unleashed. At all times owner must control his dog without touching it.
- Element 1 - walking with dog off leash
- Element 2 - encounter with a stranger
- Element 3 - recall dog
- Element 4 - encounter with a stranger walking a dog on leash
I offer advanced lessons in off leash obedience and I'm currently training dogs for the next AFCD exam which is tentatively scheduled for 1 Nov 2014 (Sat).
Sham Shui Po Sports Ground
(Hard-surfaced Football Pitch)
3 Hing Wah Street, Cheung Sha Wan, Kowloon (tentative)
Applications should be submitted by 11 October 2014.
More info regarding the exam can be found here.