Dog daze

PUBLISHED: 10:38 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 February 2013

Dog daze

Dog daze

Our dog expert Sophia Taylor has some easy tips to help make sure your dog comes back when you call him

Total recall

Dog expert Sophia Taylor offers some easy tips to encourage your dog to come back to you when you call

It is a lovely summers day, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and you are walking in the countryside with your four legged buddy, family member, pooch what ever you affectionately call your canine, when you find a quiet spot and decide to let your dog off its lead so it can have a run to stretch its legs, only for it to then disappear for what seems (and can be) hours.
The thoughts rushing through the mind vary from I hope he doesnt get hit by a car to wait till he gets back here often accompanied by a few choice words!
Help! is the usual request I get when people contact me regarding dogs who will not return to them when they are running free. But they are not alone, as a good majority of people who contact me with dog problems are those with dogs who go selectively deaf once they have the freedom of the outside world.
It is a problem which can get out of control quite quickly and also one that cannot always be turned around.
The reasons dogs do not wish to return to their owners are varied, ranging from the dog never being properly trained, to the dog and owner relationship not being as solid as it could be.
If you have just become the owner of a puppy, then you are in the prime position of being able to take it to training classes where it can learn to come away from distractions and return to you, the most important person in its life.
It is also a good idea to keep your puppy in a training class environment for as long as possible as training is life long not just a matter of a few weeks and certainly keep the dog in the class until its second birthday, as the transition from puppyhood to adulthood can be quite demanding, with dogs going from being relatively obedient to selectively deaf. Having the support of instructors at this time is often appreciated and can help towards preventing long-term issues later in the dogs life.
If you have owned your dog from a puppy or you have taken on an older dog who has an ad hoc recall response, then there are several exercises you can try. Below is one example.
However, although this exercise may help to improve your dogs recall, it is not the same as enlisting the help of a professional dog trainer, who will guide you as to the right time to remove the line, as this is done in stages and also suggest other ways to improve your dogs recalls.

  • Attach a long line to a normal dog collar (not a half check, check chain or head collar) and be sure to take some tasty smelly treats with you like hot dog sausage, ham etc as long as your dog is not on a special diet.

  • Send the dog away to sniff and play whilst you hold the end of the line.

  • After a few minutes, say the dogs name and as soon as it looks at you, call the dog with the command come and walk briskly in the opposite direction.

  • When the dog has almost reached you, turn and face the dog and calmly reel in the line, calmly hold the collar and then, FUSS and PET the dog, give the FOOD reward and then release again. At this stage do not ask the dog to sit as you want the dog to know it is being rewarded for returning to you.

  • If the dog does not respond first time to its name, still walk the opposite way and once the dog gets to you, show them the treat but do not give it. By doing this you are showing the dog what it could have had, had they responded straight away.

  • Try the exercise a few times and alternate between FUSS, PET and FOOD and FUSS, PET and PLAY with the dogs favourite toy.

  • Be animated and exciting as this will help encourage the dog to return to you because you are fun to be with.

You would need to practise this for several months, depending on the dog and how it responds.
Another point to make is, shouting or hitting the dog is a big no-no. So no matter how long it has taken for the dog to return to you, always praise it. The last thing you want to do is frighten the dog and cause it to lose trust in you.
Have fun!

Contact Sophia Taylor

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