A dog’s breed can influence how well they walk off-leash; but, the personality of an individual dog is much more influential. So, while boxers, in general, can be great off-leash hiking partners, they still need off-leash training and your vote of confidence before you can trust them to walk freely!
Are Boxers Good Off Leash?
Boxers tend to do well off-leash, as they are not as prone to wandering off as other breeds like terriers. The lack of desire to stray is a virtue of the boxer breed – where terriers were bred to chase game through tunnels in the forest, boxers were bred for bull-baiting (meaning that they are not distracted as easily by smaller animals or new scents!)
With appropriate training, boxers are happy to accompany you and walk by your side leash-free.
Before any dog is trustworthy off-leash, they must go through off-leash training.
Off-leash training is like any other obedience training course. Dogs begin the training course by walking on a leash, then transition to walking on a long leash, and with guidance, they learn to walk off the leash. During training, dogs are taught specific commands and postures and get tested with a range of distractions.
By the end of an off-leash training course, dogs undergo testing to see how well they manage off-leash.
Even once a dog has passed their off-leash training class, you must consistently practice and reinforce what they learned to ensure they don’t start pushing boundaries. For example, a dog may push boundaries by straying a little further from your side when walking off-leash. If you allow your dog to test limits in this way, they will continue to test you, and you begin to lose control.
Assessing Individual Dogs For Off-Leash Walking
Boxers do well with off-leash walking, but the dog’s personality dictates much of their performance off-leash. For example, dogs that often do not do well with off-leash work include:
- Dogs with a strong prey drive.
- Easily distracted dogs.
- Dogs that have failed to grasp basic obedience commands.
- Dogs that are afraid of their owners or their surroundings.
Conversely, dogs that usually excel off-leash include:
- Dogs that have mastered obedience classes and advanced commands.
- Dogs that can listen and follow instructions consistently.
- Dogs that have intense focus and a drive to please.
- Dogs that already walk closely by your side without straying or pulling on a leash.
Should You Let Your Boxer Walk Or Run Off-Leash?
Even when your dog has passed their off-leash training and proven trustworthy, it is not always a great idea to let them walk without a leash.
One reason to reconsider letting your boxer walk off-leash is the possibility of encountering wildlife. Whether you run into a bear or a skunk, having your dog off-leash can cause difficulty because, without a leash, you have little control of what your dog does to the wildlife and vice versa!
Many dogs like to roll in the smelliest things they can find – it is a means of camouflaging their scent and a vestigial behavior of their ancestors. The problem with this rolling behavior when your dog is off-leash is that you have no control over what they roll in!
Allowing your boxer to walk off-leash can also be problematic when you encounter other people on your walk. Depending on your dog’s personality, they may run up to them and invite them to play, or they may snap if they feel threatened. Neither of these situations is ideal because your dog (or the people you encounter) may get hurt!
One of the biggest influences on whether you should allow your dog to walk off-leash is the local law. Depending on where you live, the law may explicitly state that allowing animals to “run at large” is against the law.
Any animal that is not under your direct control qualifies as “at large.” For some states, this includes animals that are off-leash even if watched by their owners. For other states, the law only includes animals that are not under the supervision of their owners.
For most U.S. states, breaking local leash laws results in a fine (this fine is usually tiered and increases based on how many times you get charged with breaking leash laws. Most states will also confiscate and impound your dog.
Leash laws also often have clauses built into them that lessen the likelihood of animals at large in the future. For example, one county in North Carolina requires that any animal impounded for running at large must be microchipped by a licensed vet within seventy-two hours of owners reclaiming them.
Pet owners also get held financially responsible for any damage or destruction that their dog caused while off-leash.
Lastly, many local municipalities also have blanket rules about off-leash animals. For example, they may make it unlawful to have your dog off-leash in any public park.
Some of these leash laws may seem a little bizarre and even unenforceable, but they are in place to reduce the nuisance pet population, reduce aggressive dog attacks, and cut down on the number of unwanted litters born each year.
Conclusion / Summary
Boxers generally do well with off-leash walks when trained well, but before you let your pup off-leash, be sure that they know their commands and follow them. You should also be sure that it is legal to let your dog off-leash where you live!