Inside the heart of every dog, is a wolf looking to explore, hunt, chase and identify sights and sounds. Due to this instinctual behavior, Coming when Called can be difficult to obtain consistency from; no matter what age your dog may be.
Additionally, some dogs are bred to be independent and run away from the owner in order to hunt. Having a dog such as that is double the work to achieve success with in this department. Volumes could be written on the topic of Running Away, Coming When Called. However, for a beginner’s level discussion, we are going to focus on basic Do’s and Don’ts. This will shape the foundation of your dog’s entire mindset on this topic.
Do’s and Don’ts
When To Praise
We need the dog to have the mindset that coming over to you, is always, 100% of the time a good thing to do. That nothing bad, or ‘not-fun’ or unpleasant happens when he comes over to you.
For example, let’s say your dog gets away from you at the dog park. You then start running all around looking and chasing after him for 20 minutes. As you approach him and are just a few steps away at that very last moment, your dog comes over to you!!!.
You must praise him for coming over to you because the last thing he did was the right thing. The last thing he did was a good thing.
The dog will connect your pleasure or displeasure with what he “Just Did”. He will not connect it to all of the naughty things he did for the previous 20 minutes. If you did so, you would be scolding him for coming over to you. He will interpret this as Not to Come When Called in the future because something bad happens.
If in this scenario, you had caught up to him and grabbed his collar, hence going to him, then you could have scolded him for running away because he was still actively resisting your call to him.
No Negatives During Activities Of Daily Living
The next life experience to avoid that could completely interfere with your dog’s desire to Come when Called has to do with Never doing anything negative to your dog during Activities of Daily Living.
For example, you are running late for work and you call your dog over. You then abruptly put him in his crate and hurriedly leave for work. You have just taught your dog that coming over to you , especially in the morning , is not a good thing because as soon as you get your hands on him, you put him in his crate and then leave him alone.
Next time the dog will be sure not to come over to you during your morning exit ritual. And over time, your dog may even learn your exit cues and understand that the crate beckons. This could cause him to start running away from you when you call him.
Without realizing it, you are making the consequence negative for coming when called.
Solution To This Dilemma
- When it is time to leave the house, don’t call your dog over and put him in his crate; rather you approach your dog and then bring him to his crate. That way he will not connect going to you with something negative.
- An even smoother transition would be to then give him a treat or pet a/o play with him for a few moments before you put him in the crate. Maybe even a bonus cookie after you close the crate door!
Never Do Anything Negative To Your Dog If He Is Coming Over To You.
Another Beginner’s Level bit of advice relative to Coming When Called is to never do anything negative to your dog if he is coming over to you.
Some examples and their solutions would be :
Don’t call your dog over and then give him a bath or put in his ear medicine. You have just taught him that going over to you is not a good thing. Something unpleasant will happen to him as a result of approaching you.
If you have to do one of those things, or anything unpleasant to your dog, it is best to approach your dog, play for a bit and then perform the potentially unpleasant behavior.
Human Error At The Dog Park
Coming to your person when called should have a positive consequence 100% of the time. One final example would be he classic human error at the dog park.
Picture it , your dog is playing with dogs or running and experiencing outdoor sights and sounds. You then realize it is time to go home. Don’t call your dog over to you and slap on the leash and pull him away to the car. If you do so, he will learn very rapidly that if he comes when called at the dog park that ‘the Fun will End’!! He will learn very quickly not to go anywhere near you when you are at the park.
Remember, that dogs connect a positive or negative consequence with the ‘Last Thing They Just Did’. Always analyze your actions based on this knowledge.
Instead, call the dog over to you several minutes before you need to leave. Put on the leash very subtly but continue to play and walk with your dog for a few minutes. Perhaps even then perform some obedience commands before you leave the park. With this scenario, the ‘Fun’ does not end as a result of Coming when Called.