Fall is almost here. It’s nice and cool outside, the ideal time to be outdoors with your furry friend. It’s also a good time to be sure that your pet “knows the rules,” in order to avoid trouble or injury.
What’s the most important command your dog must know? It’s the command that motivates him to move from wherever he is to wherever you are; the command “come”, that is. So, how do you teach your dog to come when called?
Coming when Called
Start by attaching him or her to a long line, or connect several leashes. Get a friend to help. Have one person walk approximately 10 feet away from the other person (who is holding the dog) and say “DOGS NAME, COME.” Do not repeat; instead, clap, whistle, pat your legs until your dog reaches you. When he/she does, reward your dog with 3-4 small treats one right after another (not a handful). Always practice in a safe area, if not fenced in, be sure to use a long line. Practice, practice, practice. Understand that your dog – much like a spouse or significant other – doesn’t want to be around you when you are stressed or angry. So, don’t expect your dog to come to you when called if you exhibit behavior that makes the dog anxious. Remember, too, that whenever your dog does what you ask, no matter what it is, SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION!
As your dog begins to come to you reliably, add a command to “SIT” and do not allow them to run off without releasing them.
Have trouble with your dog jumping up on, or nipping at, people… strangers and family members alike?! There’s a way to “cur-tail” that! With a little training, of course. Again, enlist the help of a friend. Have a person walk toward your dog while commanding your dog to “SIT.” If you dog jumps up, or even lifts feet off the ground, the person should turn and walk away. Repeat this exercise until your dog remains in a sitting position. When this happens, have that person reward your dog with a treat. Now, your dog will or at least should, remain in a sitting position when some approaches to pet him or her.
Chasing a Running Dog
As odd as it may sound, if your dog is running away from you, do not give chase. This, unfortunately is a game that dogs love to play. “I’ll run and you chase me!” Of course, it’s the last thing you want when you see your best friend running toward oncoming traffic or chasing after a five year old on a scooter. You should only run after your dog in a situation where you are absolutely certain that you can overtake the dog before disaster occurs. If this is not possible, call your pet’s name and run in the opposite direction. He’s much more likely to change direction and come after you.
Tips on Training
Dogs tend to tune us out if we talk to them all the time. Whether you’re training or out for an off-leash walk with your dog, refrain from constantly chattering to her. If you’re quiet much of the time, your dog is more likely to pay attention to you when you DO speak to her. Appreciate every effort your dog makes in training. Your praise will keep her focused so that she’ll be more likely to see training as an opportunity for engagement, and ideally, affection. When rewarding your dog during training sessions, it’s especially effective to use special rewards that your dog doesn’t get at any other time, such as chunks of chicken breast, cooked chicken livers, cheese, hot dogs, baby food or bits of sausage.
Now, while these tips are by no means exhaustive, they’re at least a start at a relationship that you can both enjoy, especially when it comes to the great outdoors.