Prevent Dogs From Getting Lost – Part 2
If you haven’t read Part 1 of my article, scroll down and read that first. Part 2 is a discussion of how to get your dog to come to you every time you call him. But let me remind you that you can never call your dog and then holler, or tell her she’s bad for having gotten out! I can’t stress that enough!. Your dog needs to develop complete trust in you so he doesn’t ever feel afraid of being punished when returning to you, even if he’s been gone for hours. Also, make sure you practice, practice, practice these games a lot. Practice makes perfect. However, if he’s gotten out, even once, she’s been reinforced for getting out, and will eventually escape again given the opportunity (gates left open, jumping the fence, digging holes underneath the fence, etc.). You need to keep a close eye on your dog whenever she’s outside
The following are some games/exercises that I want you to play with your dogs as often as possible. You should play them minimally once, preferably twice a day when you first start training. As your dog improves with each of these games, you can play a couple times/week. Sometimes play one of the games, and then switch to another game to keep your dog practicing coming each time she’s called:
GAME #1 – GO FIND IT RECALL GAME
Show your dog a treat, and then say “Go Find It” as you toss that treat on the floor away from the dog. At first, don’t toss it too far because you want the dog to learn what this game is all about. As soon as she eats the treat, call him back by saying “come” or “here” or my favorite word, “Com’ere.” Use your party-voice whenever you call your dog back to you — ALWAYS! Make sure to praise him up and applaud her when she comes back to you! Then quickly toss another treat somewhere else, keeping your dog fully engaged in this game of returning back to you.
Once your dog understands what you’re doing, begin tossing the treats further and further away so you can call her back from further distances. You should play this in several different locations inside your house. This is a fun hunting game as well as a fun recall game. Dogs love it!!
GAME #2 – PUPPY IN THE MIDDLE RECALL GAME
Start out standing just a few steps from the person you’ll be playing this game with. One person calls the dog to him with a happy word (e.g, “com’ere”), by luring him a treat. When the dog gets right in front of that person, he praises and gives that treat as a reward for coming. The second person then calls the dog and repeats this same process. When your dog gets really good at coming to each of you, (1) start increasing the distances between you and your partner a little bit at a time when you’re calling the dog back to you; (2) put that treat lure behind your back now, and bring it out only when your dog returns to each of you.
GAME #3 – RECALL TRAINING OUTSIDE USING A LONG-LINE
Anytime you train your dog outside, make sure to use high-value food rewards (e.g., cooked bits of chicken, smelly cheese, tiny cooked meatballs, etc.). Put your dog on a 15-20 foot nylon long line (most pet supply stores carry these). Do not use a flexi-leash! Take a walk with your dog out in your backyard (if you don’t have a backyard work on this at a park or other safe area where you have some room to walk around holding that line). Give your dog plenty of line to allow him to wander away. Don’t pull on it at all. Randomly call your dog over to you, praise with your party-voice and reward him for coming treating her with those high-value treats. Switch directions as you walk around. Sometimes walk in large circles and then smaller ones. Walk at a slow pace at first, and use your happy recall word.
GAME #4 – TEACH YOUR DOG TO COME RACING TO YOU IN YOUR HOUSE
Some dogs will recall right to the backdoor and then get a treat. But once some of those dogs have gotten the treat, off they go again 😉 This exercise will teach him that coming directly into the house is where the good stuff is. But you will need someone else to help you who can do a little bit of running. Also, everyone in your family needs to practice this so your dog knows to come to all of you when called.
Put the dog on your 15-20 foot long line. Make sure you have plenty of your high-value food rewards in your pocket. Give your dog one of those treats right before you begin working with him.
You should be standing close to your backdoor, but not at the door YET. Your assistant should begin by taking the dog to various places in your yard not too far from where you are standing. Call your dog to you using your designated recall word and your party-voice. If your dog doesn’t begin to come, have your assistant start running toward you holding the loop of that long-line and encouraging the dog to run with her. When your dog does reach you, give lots of praise and offer a treat.
Then your assistant takes the dog to a different spot in the yard. Have your assistant take her to places where she likes to dig or to look for squirrels. Once your dog understands that you’re giving him scrumptious food rewards, she’ll begin to look in your direction and will start running on her own to get to you.
Once your dog is running happily over to you, and your assistant no longer needs to hold onto the long-line, you can now place yourself right inside your backdoor holding the door open. Practice again calling your dog from various areas in the yard. Always offer a treat now right at the backdoor.
The last part of this exercise consists of your recalling the dog right inside the backdoor. Start playing the GO FIND IT game, and toss one treat at a time all over the floor inside for at least 15 seconds. Quickly close the backdoor as soon as she’s in that room. Once she’s found all the treats, let him right back outside again to continue practicing recalling her back inside.
Make sure to practice this game a lot. Your dog will eventually learn to trust you not to make all her fun end every time she is called into the house!