The Zany-Out of Control Dog
We all have met the zany out-of-control dog. Unfortunately she is often our dog! Sometimes you may not realize that you have a zany dog until you experience certain situations. For example, your dog may be perfectly behaved while on a leash or in your backyard but when she goes to a friend’s house or to an agility trial, she runs all around and won’t listen to a word you say. She goes visiting other dogs and people, sniffs everything and anything and generally ignores you. In addition to being frustrating, this can be a potentially dangerous situation because you may not be able to get to your dog if she puts herself in harm’s way.
The first thing you need to do to curb your dog’s zaniness is to teach her a reliable recall. That is, she MUST come immediately whenever you call her. First your dog needs to understand the command “Come” or “Here”. Once you are sure she knows the recall, you can start insuring that she will always respond to the command. To do this, start by having your dog on a long line (10 or 20 ft) in the backyard. Let her wander around and think you aren’t paying her a lick of attention. Walk over to the end of the long line and call your dog to you. If she ignores you, pick up the long line and reel her into you. Say “Come” in a happy voice and give her lots of praise when she comes to you. You never ever want to punish her when she comes to you because then she won’t want to come to you the next time. Also, never give the “Come” command when you can’t reinforce it. This will just teach her that you don’t really mean what you say.
Once your dog is coming to you reliably in the controlled location of your backyard, it is time to take her to another location. It may be as simple as the front yard, where there isn’t a fence and there are the distractions of the neighbors. Again, use the long line to reinforce the recall. Gradually increase the complexity of the location where you practice your recall until your dog is reliably returning to you whenever you call her. If you have problems in any one location, you may need to go back to a less stressful, less complex location and work your way back up.
In addition to training a reliable recall command, you should also work on getting your dog’s attention. There are many methods for teaching attention by using treats or a clicker. Your local dog trainer can help you with this. There are also a number of books you can buy or borrow that explain how to get and keep your dog’s attention.
Finally, the one sure-fire method of keeping your dog from becoming out of control is to be the most interesting thing in her life. If you are going for a walk and she is pulling to go in her own direction, turn and go the other way. She will want to come with you. Walk briskly so that she has to work to keep up with you. This will help keep her from wandering and will also help your waist line! There are many ways to keep yourself interesting to your dog. After all, they really love us and want to be with us!
To read more problem dog help tips, go here.
~Thank you to Amy Sugars