‘Safety First’ for your dog

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The two most important ‘tricks’ you can teach your dog is to COME WHEN CALLED and to STAY WHEN TOLD. When taught correctly these two exercises will definitely save your best friend’s life one day. Let’s deal with COME WHEN CALLED.

When teaching this exercise it’s critical that your dog is never put in a position to disobey your command. Always follow correct training techniques and always put yourself in a winning position.

Choose a distraction-free area and always train before meal time. When training the COME command use a light strong cord about 10 meters long. Attach this securely to your dog’s collar, give your dog a release command (I use the word FREE) and let your dog do whatever he pleases for a little while. Because he is on a long line, he will always be safe.

Now, here is the important bit: calmly call your dog’s name and the command COME. Do NOT say another word. If he does not come to you after 2 seconds gently pull the lead in until he is close to you and reward him with a tasty food reward, a tug toy, a throw of a ball, or even all of these. It is important that he realises two things:

  1. He has no choice but to come when you call him.
  2. When he does come to you, it is Christmas Day all over again. Give your dog plenty of rewards and praise.

What I find over and over again is that people call and call their dogs, sometimes up to seven times and they might come in but mostly they ignore the owner completely. This is not the dog’s fault – it is always the owner’s. The dog has learnt that he always has a choice and that he does not have to obey you straight away. When training your dog in this exercise you must NOT give him a choice. Always use only one command and follow through with a huge reward when he comes to you.

With the long lead still attached, add distractions (e.g., train him near skateboard ramps, soccer games, noisy parks, etc) and after a month of training you will find that your best mate will COME WHEN CALLED all the time, happily and with enthusiasm.

Next time I will cover the other very important exercise: STAY WHEN TOLD. When you have mastered these two commands you will be able to CONTROL your dog in any situation and this will definitely save his life one day.

Article courtesy of Steve Austin.

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