We start early and teach the basics first before we built in the distractions. We never train the “off-leash” exercises off-lead. The first time the dog will be off-leash is in the actual ring. The idea behind this is that if during training your dog gets away from you, there have no recourse and the dog just learned just that. I feel that many dogs that do great on the leash exercises and poorly on off-leash have been trained off leash before and had a chance to experience “freedom”.