Gaining Control of the Zany-Out of Control Dog
About everyone has had the pleasure of meeting the zany out-of-control dog. If you are extra fortunate, it’s your own dog! In the defense of those owners, you sometimes don’t experience that your dog is out of control until you are in just the right situation. Your well behaved, obedient dog in the house and yard just might bust in two when exposed to an outing to a friends house or a dog agility event. Not only can this sudden disconnect with you be frustrating, it can be dangerous to your dog as well.
All dogs should have a solid and reliable recall, first and foremost. This requires proofing and lots of it. You need to know that your dog will respond to your call in multiple situations. The first step is teaching an understanding to the command you will be using. “Come” or “Here” are the most popular, but not both.
You can start at short range with a 6′ lead and your dog’s favorite reward. Give the command and treat when your dog responds correctly. When you feel your dog understands the command work it in other areas of the house under different distractions. Then take it outside and start with minimal distractions and building as your dog is proficient.
When your dog is solid on a short line you are ready to move to a long line (10 or 20 ft) in the backyard. Let your dog wander around until they forget you are there. Let them walk to the end of the line or you can do the walking. Call your dog to you with tons of excitement and energy. You need to become more exciting than the distraction giving tons of praise when they do come to you.
If your dog doesn’t respond you can real them in with the line while you give the command in a happy, energetic tone. You never ever want to punish your dog during this lesson as it will create anxiety in your recall and your dog will stop coming to you. Also, never give the “Come” command when you can’t reinforce it. This will just teach your dog 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 them 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. 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.
The one sure-fire method of keeping your dog from becoming out of control is to be the most interesting thing in their life. If you are going for a walk and they are pulling on you, turn and go the other way treating when they catch up to you. She will want to come with you. Walk briskly so that she has to work to keep up with you. This will help teach your dog to keep their attention on you. There are many ways to keep yourself interesting to your dog. After all, they really love us and want to be with us!