It’s a nice day outside and you want your dog to enjoy the beautiful weather, so you have him outside in your fenced yard. Then a friend drops by, opens the gate, and boom – your dog is now running around the neighborhood!
How do you get your dog to come back? You start chasing him, which only puts your dog in “playmode” and he starts running even further away. He will get just far enough away that he has sight of you and you of him, as you get closer, he is off again. You frantically yell his name, waving your arms, running even faster, and getting you and him more adrenalized. Your dog now has you in a great game of chase and follow the leader.
There are steps you can take to help get your dog back in a calmer, quicker fashion.
- Practice recall in your back yard. Let your dog get distracted, call him to you in a happy, excited voice. Praise him lavishly when he comes right to you. If you are having a tough time getting your dog’s attention start this exercise with a long leash, then move to off leash in an enclosed, fenced area. You need to practice recall using distractions. If your dog comes to you when he is focused on you, that is great, but the reality is, he needs to come when he is distracted.
- When your dog is “free” running the neighborhood, he is distracted. You need to refocus him on you. Stay calm and stop running after him. Instead, move towards his direction in a calm, slow walk, keeping him in sight.
- If there are two people, one should follow your dog in a calm manner, the other person should get the car. The person in the car goes to the opposite end of the street, while the person on foot directs the dog in that direction. The driver gets out of the car, opens the back door and calls your dog to the car. You are using the car as a refocus attraction and changing his distraction.
- If it is just you, try to get the help of a neighbor who will hold a treat and call your dog to him. Once your dog redirects to the neighbor, leash up your dog and walk him home. This will work best if you engage a neighbor that your dog already knows and likes.
For the best results, you need to practice recall with distractions. The more you practice, the more confident and calm you will be in getting your dog back.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery county and northern Chester County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
© Copyright 2015 Bark Busters USA All Rights Reserved