By Lucy Hine
There's nothing more frustrating than seeing your dog running in the opposite direction when they're called.
Not having the "come here" command under wraps is not only frustrating but dangerous too.
A dog who has been taught to come on command makes walking easier and more enjoyable and gives you the confidence to let your dog off the leash, knowing he will come to you if you're approaching a dangerous object like a busy road, other dogs or people.
The most ideal situation is to teach your dog to come while it's a puppy. Begin by running backwards whilst calling your pup in an energetic and encouraging voice to "come". When your pup has caught up, offer him a treat, pat and verbally praise him, and he will soon learn that when he comes he is rewarded by positive attention.
Never make the mistake of scolding you dog when it comes to you he may have taken a long time to come, which made you angry, but punishing him when he comes encourages him not to come next time because he assumes he will be met with negative attention.
You must also remember that dogs still have traces of a "pack" instinct and they enjoy socialising with other dogs. The reason your dog may be ignoring you while other dogs are around is because he's communicating with them and "sussing" them out due to the pack instinct of deciding who's more dominant. If a dog moves away from yours with its eyes to the ground and tail between its legs, your dog is the more dominant one.
Most owners will be familiar with the sight of their dog circling another dog they meet in the park, both moving in a stiff-legged gait while sniffing each other. Your dog will be reluctant to respond to your calls during such meetings, as during this time any quick movement can result in your dog being chased or attacked by the other dog who could feel threatened by your dog's sudden departure.
By nature, most dogs have the hunting instinct to chase things and your attempts at calling your dog while they're chasing another dog, bird, cat, car or someone else's ball will be unsuccessful. Breeds such as certain terriers and herding dogs will usually become "deaf" to your calls while chasing an object because they're too excited by the chase and oblivious to everything else around them.
Using a treat, a pat or verbal praise to reward your dog for coming to you is the best way to ensure an obedient dog and a safe time away from home.
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