Jackie Murphy G.Dip ABM / A.Dip CBM / MISAP (beh) / MEST (QTLS) / TCBTS, Ambassador of Great Britain for International Society of Animal Professional yet again shares her useful and knowledgeable tips.
There are many reasons why a dog may stop and not wish to continue on a walk. The most important first step is to have a thorough vet check carried out on the dog. It is essential that a vet is able to rule out that any medical issues may be causing or contributing to the behaviour.
There are also times when a dog may stop walking as he / she feels anxious about what is ahead. The dog may even have made negative associations with a particular situation or location when out and about. It is important to avoid pulling the dog, as well as removing any type of reassurance. In a dog’s mind, he / she is likely just to think you are worried too. Also avoid reprimands and just be patient and try to distract the dog from the situation with a game or a few training cues with which the dog is familiar (sit, or lie down for example). Once the dog is distracted, this may help him / her to continue walking. This type of issue requires professional help. It is important to get a professional evaluation and plan by contacting your local member of the Canine Behaviour & Training Society. The Society has Accredited Animal Behaviourists and Animal Behaviour Technicians registered with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council. This provides reassurance that you will get knowledgeable and professional help.
Can and old dog, set in its ways, ever be successfully taught to come to you when called?
As a point of principle it really is possible to ‘ teach an old dog new tricks’. It may take a little longer once habits are formed, but generally dogs can keep on learning lots as they get older.
Many owners actually teach their dogs not to come back when called! Their dog is off lead, won’t come back and makes the owner late for work. Finally after much chasing (how rewarding and fun is that) the owner gets the dog back and then gives him / her a thorough ‘telling off’. The dog then learns it is best to avoid the owner when called!
There are a few key points to remember -
• Always start off teaching your dog recall with no distractions around. As you become more successful, add in distractions little by little
• It helps to have your dog on a long line or flexi leash to start with. This way you can encourage your dog to you, so it starts to become a habit to come back when called.
• Practice in short sessions of no more than 5 minutes, or the dog will lose focus and start it to listen
• Never reprimand your dog for not coming back to you. Always show you are nice to be around!
• Avoid putting the lead back on at the same point on the walk each day. Dogs are smart and can soon work out when to avoid owners as the walk is coming to an end! Put the lead on and off at regular intervals.
• Unless there is a risk to the dog, do not chase after him / her. This is very rewarding and much more fun for the dog than the owner!
Recall is taught in basic stages -
• Take a tasty treat and lure the dog towards you saying the cue ‘ come’. Once your dog reaches you, give the treat swiftly and give lots of praise. Repeat, repeat, repeat
• Start to work on increasingly larger distances • Now start to add in distractions (someone holding a toy, walking past, another dog).
• Now, when your dog comes to you, hold the treat at the nose and with your other hand hold the dog’s collar. Give the treat to the dog whilst holding the collar. This teaches dogs that it is nice to have the collar felt, as it brings nice rewards. In fact, every time you give your dog a treat or even affection, start to touch and hold the collar. This prevents dogs avoiding being grabbed by the collar, as it has positive associations.
• Now when your dog comes to you, start to delay giving the treat for longer and longer periods of time. This teaches a dog to come back when called and to stay with you.
Lots of religions are what are required here. Also, carry a small squeaky toy to get attention if necessary. This can be very helpful in an emergency situation.
It is also important to consider other reasons / motivations as to why the dog will not come when called. The dog in this case is a Parsons and is a natural ‘ratter’ and loves to chase. If the motivation is for example to chase other wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits etc, or if there are displays of aggression, then professional help and support is required. You can get a professional evaluation and plan by contacting your local member of the Canine Behaviour & Training Society. The Society has Accredited Animal Behaviourists and Animal Behaviour Technicians registered with the Animal Behaviour and Training Council. This provides reassurance that you will get knowledgeable and professional help.
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