Teaching your dog to come when called is among the most important things you can teach. It can be life-saving, and it’s something your dog can learn surprisingly easily, as long as you recognize how difficult it is for dogs and are willing handsomely for his trouble. Be generous! Here are some steps steps you can take to get you started:
- Fill a sandwich bag with chicken (the real stuff!) or something similarly delicious, put in the refrigerator and leave overnight (We want it to be a surprise!).
- Choose a word or sound that your dog has never heard before and likely won't in any other context ("Brrrrrrrr" "PicklePicklePickle" "YowYowYowYow")
- When your dog is least expecting it (you're watching TV, he's dozing on the couch) make the sound. "PicklePicklePickle!"
- Count two seconds in your head
- Jump up and run squealing and happy-talking to the fridge, encouraging your dog to follow you
- Open the pre-pepared plastic bag and feed the ENTIRE bag, piece by piece, praising and laughing the whole time.
- Then go back to the TV and behave as though nothing happened. Let him process what just happened!!
- Two or three days later repeat. And again a few days after that. He should start looking lively when he hears the special sound!
- Next do it from another room. Then the yard.
- After that, try the dog park when it is not very busy
- Then when it is more busy but your dog is already bored with playing
- Finally call him when he is mid-play
There are five important things to execute properly in order for this to work
- Don't give your dog any hint that his big party is about to occur. Make sure to prepare the food in advance so the smell does not give him a clue. The only thing that predicts the food must be your novel sound
- Make sure you make the novel sound BEFORE running for the food. The sound must PREDICT the food. It mustn't come at the same time, or after.
- Never make the sound without paying with high value food. Make it worth his while! We all need motivation to do hard work!
- "Protect" your sound and save for use at the dog park or you are out hiking, or your dog escapes the house and is running down the street. At other times use a more casual cue such as "Come."
Good luck and contact us if you have questions