Come to you?
Why would I?
The smells waft up from the grass beckoning,
The furred creatures run and chatter fast, but not faster than me.
My sometimes pleasant partner complains, drags slowly, makes angry noises and threatens me.
I see a glimpse of my quarry in the distance, I can catch it, I can chase it.
The joy of running, the joy of running.
Why would I come, why would I stay near?
Are you and your dog in the above poem?
You thinking that you need to ‘make’ your dog come or ‘make’ them stay with you. And your dog only wanting to leave because being near you is no fun and being away is lots of fun, so if they can steal the joy they will.
How did you happen to become the barrier to joy instead of the conduit. Even in puppy kindergarten the other puppies are so much fun to play with and the humans tend to want to be observers instead of actively joining in the fun. And then when it’s time to return to learning people/puppy cues, they drag the pup away from their playmates instead of offering him a choice to join up in a new fun game.
Make choices, think differently – you can join in the fun and play so it’s great together or you can go down the path of continuing to think about “making him do it” and be angry that control of other living creatures is ever out of reach. You can become the gateway, you can become an active player or you can keep on becoming angry and figure out how to punish your so-called best friend because he’s thwarted you on purpose.
The choice is yours, but either way you go it will be frustrating. It’s fun, but also hard to be proactive and reward the right choices, to see the pieces and respond to the first little piece when you want more because there is pressure to react and try to fix everything at once, Being proactive and training is totally opposite of being reactive and correcting.
How do you become the conduit to fun and joy?
Think of what your pup likes — have it, do it. Be prepared every time you’re with him. Reward early, reward fast while pup is doing the thing you want.
- start with their top preferences and use these as rewards
- then expand his likes – food, toys, games
Make the fun contingent on him doing something for you – and be absolute about this, no free rides, no stealing.
- start with easy stuff, pup wants to go outside, wait for him to sit before you open the door – same for crate gate, food, petting (note wait means just wait – no complaining, nagging, pushing – no visits to the punitive side, just silently wait).
- hand target – reward for nose touch to palm
- kiss, kiss – reward for coming then release to go play
- sit, tug game, sit
- name game – reward for his look when saying his name
- run away come – say their name, when they look, run away, reward when you’re caught
- held back recall – have someone hold your dog so they have to burst after you when you call and run away
- hide and seek – pup needs to find you for reward
- toss food, send to find, run away, play tug when they catch you
- send to crate, call and run, reward
- etc … think of games, pups like movement and chase and sniffing games
No fun without you: Prevent, manage early on so they don’t just get to go have great fun without you – you need to be part of fun stuff. This means being actively involved – moving, cheering, interacting (not standing watching – that’s not active). Keep the cycles of fun balanced – control cue release, playing with another pup, then interaction with you (note that dogs really enjoy their own species so you will need to ratchet up your desirability if you let them party very much with canine friends).
Prevent things that are fun, but that won’t be allowed – chasing the cat or horses or car, ripping up things, wandering to the neighbors, eating off the counter, climbing on people or furniture, whatever your rules are start the way you mean to continue,
You are the gateway for fun and you need to have fun! Isn’t the relationship the point after all. And then being with you, coming to you will be amazing, will be easy, it will be freedom.
Warning signs that your recall training isn’t what it needs to be
having to call more than once
- pup starting to come, but then finds something else to sniff
- if there’s something more interesting your dog acts deaf/no response to calls
- won’t come away from food, friends, or whatever that’s interesting so you know not to call then
What to do then
Prevent/manage freedom. Dog needs to get much less freedom so that rewards from the environment don’t trump your rewards. And you need to markedly increase the fun/value your dog has for you. Play fun and exciting recall games three to five minutes daily for the next 2 months. And each time your dog takes the choice to ignore you (so you have to call twice or more or go get them) you are 20 recalls in the hole and they are up 1 (if you want a tally system) – so it adds three days of practice.
Once you have a great recall, maintain it by playing recall games at least once a month … forever. It’s fun anyway, so why not.