In Part One I talked about how if a dog is scared of other dogs, it doesn’t matter how friendly the dog running over is, my dog is still going to be scared and is still going to start lunging and barking.
But what if you are the owner of the friendly dog?
It is so embarrassing to be on a lovely walk with your dog who is running around and playing, only to spot another dog out of the corner of your eye and feel that dread in the pit of your stomach.
Within a split second your dog has spotted the other dog and is bowling over towards it. You start calling his name frantically, whistling, shouting ‘sausages’ like a lunatic but as far as your dog is concerned you don’t even exist. The only thing that exists right now is that other dog on the horizon.
It is so stressful and scary too – what if the other dog is on the other side of a busy road? What if your dog gets hurt, or runs off and never comes back!?
We’ve all been there and know exactly what it feels like (although with Joey it is usually food rather than other dogs!). No recall is 100% reliable. Dogs are dogs, not robots, so there will always be that tiny element of doubt.
But why don’t they come back when we call them?
Walks are amazing fun for our dogs! There are so many exciting things out there in the big wide world that are competing for our dogs attention – other dogs, people, runners, cyclists, cars, water, cats, squirrels, rabbits, grouse, pheasants, scents, grass, soil…(and bird food if you are Joey!)
And I think sometimes when owners say ‘It’s ok, he’s friendly’ what we really mean is ‘I’m so sorry my dog isn’t listening to me right now, I feel like a complete idiot!’ So I have a lot of sympathy and patience for these owners when they have had enough and come to me for recall training.
And my first piece of advice is to these owners is not to let their dogs off lead.
Does that sound a bit bizarre? You want to teach your dog to come back when let off the lead and now I’m telling you to stop letting him completely?
But it makes perfect sense.
We shouldn’t be letting our dogs off lead at all if we think they may run off after a distraction. And the reason behind that is that if they run off after a distraction, lets say another dog, and then they have a great game with the other dog and completely ignore you, what are they learning? That it is great fun to run off because they get to play with other dogs. So what are they going to do next time? That’s right, run off!
We need to spend time building the relationship and focus with our dogs so that they want to be with us, and if they go off lead they stay close, and if we call them back, they come straight away, because we are better fun than all of the other distractions!
And once your dog thinks you are better fun than all of the other distractions, that’s when you can let him off lead.
So if you want help with this, let me know and I will make sure you don’t run the risk of your dog running off again.