Does your dog run away at the first sight of other dogs or people?
By Sarah Groves Dog Training - your puppy training specialist covering Neath, Port Talbot and Swansea
This can be a frustrating situation - you want to allow your dog the off lead freedom they deserve, however the safety risks of letting them off start to outweigh the benefits.
There will be MANY reasons to why your dog doesn't come back when called, or will run away when other people or dogs pop up, but the main reason is this:
Your dog has previously run away and had an AMAZING time for doing so!
All of a sudden coming back to you doesn't seem so appealing - even for a treat!
What do we do about this?
Start becoming the MOST FUN THING in the environment, even when there's an option to have fun with others!
By doing this, you will be giving your dog an outlet for the things they most enjoy doing and is much more likely to CHOOSE YOU over others!
Take a look at some of these small steps you can take to becoming your dag's FAVOURITE person in the environment, making running away a thing of the past!
Tip #1 - Management is key!
First things first, we want to make sure that your dog is unable to continue practising running away and getting enjoyment from it.
Using a long training lead in the meantime will help to manage this.
Tip #2 - Start building focus games in a really low distraction environment
Building on recall starts with building focus - try these simple focus games at home using one of your dog's meals:
Drop a piece of food on the floor - your dog will eat and then look back at you.
As soon as your dog looks back at you, tell them YES! and then drop another piece of food on the floor.
Repeat this 10 times.
Throw the next piece of food away from you - your dog will run away to eat that piece of food and then will start to orient back towards you.
As they move back towards you - say YES! and then throw the next piece of food in the opposite direction.
Repeat this 10 times
After this, you can mix things up a bit:
The next time your dog orients back towards you, replace just throwing the food away with getting the dog to chase you for the food before you throw it (great for dogs who enjoy chase games)
Throw food under your legs for added fun
REPEAT, REPEAT REPEAT!
Getting your dog into these focus game at home will set them up for the next level - in a new envronment.
Tip #3 - Teach new tricks
Teaching your dog new tricks is a fantastic way to have fun and build focus on you!
There are sooo many tricks you can teach, tricks which I have found helps with recall includes:
'Touch' or hand target
Tip #4 - Repeat the focus games and tricks out and about
You can now up the game by taking it into a new environment, but here it's important not to rush things.
Ideally find a quiet field or a corner of a park where you're unlikely to see any dogs.
By doing this you will be showing your dog that focusing on you is fun wherever you go, and not just at home.
Tip #5 - When dogs pop up in the environment: GAME ON!
While maintaining a distance from other dogs and people and keeping your dog on the long lead, you can now start to teach: other dogs = FUN with you!
As soon as your dog looks at another dog or person at a distance, say YES! and start one of the games.
Take the pressure off yourself and your dog
Teaching new skills takes time and repitition.
Instead of seeing each walk as a training session, see it as an opportunity to go out and have some fun with your dog.
By doing this you will be taking the pressure off yourself and your dog, making walks more enjoyable.
Every now and then you may get a dog wandering up to you while you're training, but don't panic beause this is real life training! Wait until this dog has moved along and start your games again.
Want to know more about how to teach your dog new skills?
If you try these tips out, comment below and tell me how you're getting on!