It sounds like a simple answer but some are confused about this. Let me give you a quick explanation and tell you the three stages of TRUE off leash obedience training.
The first thing is BASIC OBEDIENCE and it means you have trained the dog to do commands such as sit, come, stay, down, stand, go to place etc. These are done on a leash or long line.
So, this makes the OFF LEASH OBEDIENCE easy in theory. The dog will do all of the commands you have trained him to do without the use of a leash. If you have done the basics and he does those well the off leash shouldn’t be that hard. The only hard thing about off leash skills is that the dog will at times become distracted and might venture from his training. You either stop this or stick with on leash work only.
This is why phase 3 of obedience is the most difficult part. OFF LEASH OBEDIENCE with DISTRACTIONS. Your dog may heel perfectly under normal circumstances but what about when he sees another dog or cat? Dogs will be dogs and how he behaves once he is distracted that matters the most. Does he take off at 100 mph or does he still listen to you? In order to master this phase your dog must do the other two perfectly. You can work on the distraction part while you work on the off leash phase of your training.
If you pay to have your dog trained you should be clear upfront as to what the finished product will be. And, you should be very clear on which methods will be used. If a trainer tells you the dog will be trained in off leash obedience this means when you pick him up he will not need an e-collar, prong collar nor other punishment device to get the results you give commands for. If you pay for off leash the trainer should take you and the dog on a walk outside and show you that the dog will follow commands as given the first time.
Know which level of training you are paying for and expect it when you pick your dog up.