This is not something that every dog needs to know, but many dog owners would prefer their dog to roam free, off the leash on a walk. The problem is that most dogs will just run away, especially if they are in need of exercise. If your dog does not do well with basic commands and doesn’t “come” on command, then you won’t be able to go on a walk with your dog off the leash. However, every dog can learn to stay by your side, so here is what you should do.
Be the leader, as dogs are pack animals who will obey their leaders. Teach your dog the command “come”, and make sure to practice telling your dog to come on a daily basis. Practice it while the dog is on the leash as well, unless the leash isn’t long enough. Once your dog understands that command and obeys you every time you ask him or her to “come”, then it is time for experience.
You will need to have a good understanding of how your dog will react in different situations and how easily your dog can become distracted. If your dog is easily distracted then you will have to work on that by training your dog in parks and other public areas where there are a good amount of distractions nearby. When you are in a busy area like a dog park, then you can use a long leash and practice the “come” command with your dog while he or she is distracted. Keep trying to work with your dog on that command throughout various other distractions until you have a good idea of what distracts your dog the most.
Now you can really test how well your dog listens and obeys you by taking the dog off the leash and practicing basic commands around distractions. A fully trained dog will still obey your commands and stay by your side, while an untrained dog will get easily distracted and run off to check out the distraction. As long as your dog isn’t aggressive there is nothing to worry about, so both you and the dog need to focus on gaining the off leash experience. Walking your dog without a leash is much easier than dealing with a dog that pulls on the leash.
Here’s a video of dogs playing together without being hooked to their owner, but they are completely trained to walk without a leash on.