Like many potential Whippet owners, you’ll be wondering about what the day to day realities of caring for Whippets involves. One of the questions I’m asked a lot is can you walk a Whippet off a lead. Indeed I’ve been asked whether or not you can let Whippets off the lead at all.
The answer to both these questions is yes. You can walk a Whippet off a lead… but you need to bear a few things in mind if you want to do so.
Table of Contents
- Where Can You Walk a Whippet Off a Lead?
- Can You Walk a Whippet Off a Lead in Any Park or Field?
Where Can You Walk a Whippet Off a Lead?
One of the first things to remember is that Whippets are sighthounds. Sighthounds have a very strong prey drive and they’re usually fast runners: they’ve been bred to chase and catch smaller animals after all.
The problem for any dog with a strong prey drive is they cannot resist chasing something that catches their eye. Normally this will be an animal such as a cat, rabbit or squirrel that moves suddenly within its field of vision. However, it might also be a smaller dog…. or even a paper bag that’s been picked up by a gust of wind!
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As a consequence, walking a Whippet off the lead in some areas can be extremely dangerous. For example, if you’re walking in an urban area where vehicles pass by, a Whippet may be tempted to chase something it sees and run into a road.
Since a Whippet in chase mode will only focus on what it’s chasing, it won’t be aware of traffic. The result of this could be catastrophic.
The best places to walk a Whippet off the lead are not busy areas where they can get themselves into trouble. For me, when you’re in public places where there are lots of people, or if you’re walking near roads, a Whippet should always be on a lead.
Parks, fields and hiking trails (as long as they’re enclosed) where there’s little traffic are much safer areas to walk your Whippet off the lead.
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Can You Walk a Whippet Off a Lead in Any Park or Field?
You’ll notice I referenced enclosed places above. This is important because Whippets will not give up a chase. If you walk a Whippet off lead in an area that’s not enclosed, it could chase after something and get into a pickle!
Here’s an example for you.
I walked my Whippet Misty off the lead in the countryside many years ago when we encountered a young deer. Misty and the deer stared at each other for around 3 seconds before they both took off. The deer was trying to flee and Misty was trying to catch it.
The deer managed to evade Misty by running through a gap in a hedgerow. Fortunately for us, though Misty hadn’t seen where the deer had escaped. Had she done so, it would have been very difficult for me to catch up with her.
There was no road traffic for me to worry about where we were walking. However, it’s quite possible Misty could have chased the deer into a field where farm machinery was being used.
Wherever you’re walking, my advice would be don’t walk a Whippet off the lead if you’re unfamiliar with the area. For the most part this won’t be a problem if you know the area is enclosed so there’s no chance of escape if the Whippet urge to chase kicks in.
Countryside walks are great, but you still need to be vigilant.
It worth remembering you may need permission to walk your Whippet in certain areas, especially if the land you want to walk on is private.
You most certainly can walk a Whippet off lead though I’d always strongly advise you never to do so where there is traffic. The sighthound prey drive is simply too strong and a cat suddenly bolting from a garden will trigger a Whippet to chase.
Whippets and cats can have a very tricky relationship!
You can also let whippets off the lead in any area you know to be enclosed, so they can’t escape if something trips their sighthound super senses.
Even in enclosed areas it always makes good sense to be vigilant. If you see a potential problem, be ready to pop the lead back on your Whippet.
Finally, if you’re ever in an area you’re unfamiliar with or where you know there is potential for animal encounters, walk your Whippet on the lead just to be safe.
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Do you walk your Whippet off lead? What have been your experiences? Please leave a comment below to let us know.