HUGE = HUGE
They key here is to use lots of excitement and praise. Get low to the ground with arms open and really welcome
them to come running to you. Throw a small party when they come. Most puppies simply can’t resist this excitement. …And treats.
Starting off in your backyard and then slowly graduating to larger open areas, or when the dog park is empty. It’s important to be able to identify that your dog is learning their name, or that they respond to the word “treat”, or whichever phrase you are training them to respond to you.
After a while, when you think they’re ready, you can test them by letting the leash drag behind them as they walk in the park. There are a few times when I’ve had to step on the leash or yell to ask someone nearby to help. (Most other puppy parents are happy to help.)
Eventually. after you’ve built enough trust with each other, and you know your dog well enough, it’s time to remove the leash. It’s very important that you still keep the treats with you and continue to practice the recall and reward cycle. I would let my dog run ahead a little bit, start playing with another dog, and then I’d interrupt his state by practicing the recall & reward. 9 times out of 10, treats are more interesting than playing around or sniffing a random tree stump, so this is a good way to train them to listen to you.
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE
The real secret to perfecting this training comes after you think your dog has mastered the off leash walk. Constant practice, and always staying alert to potential distractions that may catch your dog’s interest. Don’t be afraid to let them play and have fun in the park, but every once and awhile practice the recall and reward cycle.