Although there's often nothing better than taking a long energetic hike through the countryside with your pet pooch, if your dog gets out of control a relaxing walk can soon turn into an embarrassment.
Indeed, if your pet is off the lead and won't come back when you call them, you may find that they cause upset by charging up to people who are afraid of dogs or racing up to unfriendly canines.
Steven Havers, dog/human relationship expert at haversspecialiseddogtraining.co.uk, points out that with the winter drawing to a close and longer, lighter evenings ahead, more owners will be walking their dogs off-lead and this can lead to problems if they don't have control over their pets.
He says: "Owners mistakenly believe their dog wants to meet every dog he sees, regardless of the wishes of other dog owners and many people have to suffer these dogs racing up to them causing distress and even fear."
What's more, if you walk your dog in areas where there are livestock in the fields, you could end up in a very sticky situation should your pet decide to chase after the animals.
Mr Havers adds: "Livestock will be returning to the fields in the spring and this can be a major cause of stress for dogs, especially if you do not have a good recall, plus it may result in your dog getting shot so keep your dog on a lead when you are near animals."
Even if your pooch has a strong recall and comes back on command, it can help to keep a handful of dry dog food treats with you so you can tempt your pet back should they become distracted.
And if you're not confident with your recall then it is best to keep your canine companion on the lead, and to also work on your training so in the future you can be confident of complete control off-lead.
Written by: Hannah