It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many, but the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas can be a sensory overload for your dog. From unexpected visitors to over-zealous family members, and endless food temptations – there is a lot for your dog (and you!) to cope with.
Make your Boxing Day walk a success by teaching your dog to come back to you when called. The trick is to be consistent – the more your dog learns that they get lots of praise and a great reward whenever they come back, the more they will make the connection that you are more fun to be with than anything else. To make sure you’re confident and safe, start your recall training with your dog on the lead. Using a harness should avoid any risk of hurting your dog’s neck. Simply say their name and reward them with a treat every time they look at you; let them sniff around, then say their name and reward them as soon as they respond.
Now for the recall! Walk along and allow your dog to have a sniff. Get their attention by saying their name, then say “come” or give a whistle while producing the reward you’ve got for them, such as their favourite treats or toy. Take a couple of steps away from them, so they’re encouraged to come to you. As soon as they start to move towards you, stop and give them their chosen reward – whatever they really enjoy! Practise this in different places so your dog learns to respond to their name and come towards you no matter what is going on around you both – stick to just a few places to begin with so it’s easy and they’re always successful. Begin to gradually increase the distance between you and your dog, and the level of distractions you call them away from.
Now attach a much longer lead to your dog’s harness and allow them to move a greater distance away from you before saying their name to get their attention. As they look at you, produce their favourite treats or toy! Say “come” (or whistle) and get ready to reward them for coming to you. You may need to give them a bit of encouragement by showing them their reward, then moving away again so they are enticed over to you! It’s important to make sure your dog is always rewarded when they reach you; be careful not to reach out to take hold of them, so they always come right to you.
For more tips and advice visit Dogs Trust Dog School, a national network of experienced trainers providing fun, educational courses for all dog owners based on up-to-date scientific research. Using reward-based training methods, we teach the key skills your dog needs to thrive in everyday situations; our expert knowledge will help Christmas become a walk in the park for you and your dog. Courses are five weeks long, with a free introductory session.
To find your nearest training classes in Cambridgeshire visit www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk and take your first step towards making the most of your relationship with your four-legged friend now.