Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called
Training Exercises for Dogs of Any Age continued...
After a few repetitions, most dogs simply need to hear “Are you ready?” and they come running in anticipation of a chase game. Eventually, the game can function as a “back-up recall.” If you call your dog and she doesn’t come, say “Are you ready?” Then turn and run a few strides. Your dog will be with you in a flash!
Dogs are more likely to come when called if they feel insecure when separated from you. Young puppies are naturally dependent, but once they reach their adolescence at five or six months of age, like human teenagers they develop confidence and want to go off on their own. You can diminish this tendency by planning exercises to purposefully get your dog lost and arouse her anxiety about becoming separated from you. The objective is to teach her that you can disappear at any moment, so she’d better keep a close eye on you at all times.
This sounds risky, but it doesn’t have to be if you can identify a place that’s fenced or otherwise contained, such as a narrow strip of land extending out into the water (a cape or peninsula). The place, however, should be unfamiliar to your dog and it should have trees or other structures that you can hide behind. To minimize distractions, take your dog at a time when people or dogs aren’t likely to be in the area. Let her off leash and let the leash drag on the ground. (If you’re concerned that you might not catch her again, attach her to a long line (a lightweight leash or rope that’s at least 20 feet long). Walk along and wait for your dog to get distracted by something. When she’s not looking at you, silently duck behind a tree or large rock. Don’t say anything to her. Wait for her to notice your absence. This can take just a few seconds for some dogs. For others, it can take minutes. Most dogs will eventually look for their pet parents.