One of the biggest complaints I get from owners is "As soon as I let my dog off his lead he won't come back." Then comes the angry shouting and many owner really give up, many are unable to understand why their dogs who followed them everywhere when they were puppies, suddenly change.
Most dogs do not get sufficient exercise and the only exercise they get is to be taken out to relieve themselves. From the dogs point of view he is taken out, he "performs his duty" and then is taken straight back home as a punishment. If he has an extra sniff for a moment or two he is now punished with shouting abuse and as some owners do, by smacking the dog.
Lets think like a dog. He is looking forward to his outing, if and when he performs he is taken straight home, a simple change in our behaviour can alter all this. Dogs should be taken out for their walk, as soon as they perform their "duties dog should be taken for his walk as a form of reward. Dogs must be allowed to explore, sniff but must at the same time learn that they must come when he is called. We can start this training in the home, in fact it is not training it is fun.
Whenever you call a dog always bend down in a crouched position, open your legs and arms, this is a warm posture, call your dog in a soft loving voice, when he comes give him a treat of food and a cuddle. This human behaviour will encourage the dog that to come back can now be associated as rewarding and is not a threat . Now he gets a treat and cuddle. However most important is to release the dog and walk away from the pet, we now turn the tables, we walk away from him.
If your dog is walking towards you always bend down, call him in a soft voice, give him a treat and again walk away. In the horse world it is a well known fact that horses are not fed until they get back to the stables, in fact they trot all the way back for their food, this is also a good idea to feed a dog after the walk.
A good idea when going for a walk is to take a toy like a ball and get involved in games, to encourage the dog to drop the toy, offer him a treat, by doing this he must drop his ball to obtain his treat, so the ball game can continue. In one easy lesson the dog can learn to bring back the ball, drop it for a treat.
Now comes the real object of the exercise, when you are cuddling your dog, put him back on his lead and carry on the walk for one minute, then let him off the lead, after a few repetitions your dog will learn that the lead is no longer a threat that this is a signal that the walk has not come to an end, in fact the lead means nothing and certainly does not indicate that he is being captured to be taken home.
So to sum up, do not make the mistake of catching the dog as soon a he has carried out his duties and taking him home, his reward is the walk. Put him on and off lead as much as possible, play games and then both of you will enjoy the walk and guess what? He will always come back!
Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.
He Won't Come Back
by David the Dogman
David is a Canine Behaviourist who works and lives in Marbella, Spain. Tel/Fax (00345) 2883388. His web site is located at: www.thedogman.net. David has his own radio and TV shows, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. David has been working with dogs for many years and started his career in Israel, working on the Border Police. He has been involved in all forms of training, including air sea rescue, air scent work, and has trained dogs for finding drugs. David has devoted the past 10 years to studying behaviour and the very passive approach. He does not use choke chains, check chains, or any form of aggression.