With the beautiful weather and the snow gone, we all renew our commitment to get out and walk the dog. The fields and the forests call to us: finding new trails, going off trail, getting lost. (Thank goodness for that trusty GPS to find our way home!) And with all this rediscovered freedom, our dogs' once decent recall disappears the way of the dodo bird.
Get Back to Basics: Build Value for Desired Responses
It's hard to build value while on the walk, especially when the bunny poop calls. Start at home.
- Take your dog's breakfast and walk around the yard. Call him and reward him when he comes.
- When he won't leave your side grab his collar and give him a reward.
- Take the exercise on a walk.
Remember to always reward by placing the reward close to your body so the dog has to move towards you to get it. Playing hide and seek on your walks also builds lots of fun into finding you and keeps a part of your dogs brain thinking about where you are.
- Avoid calling every time your dog goes too far. Your dog will think "if I go far, I'll get called and get a reward".
- Call him once, twice maximum. Calling him over and over again without his coming to you reinforces that your call is optional.
- Vary your route. Your dog is more likely to pay attention in new surroundings. (Especially with young dogs who are still establishing their comfort range. Regular trail changes keep them close.)
Have a wonderful time out there walking your dogs and appreciate this amazing weather. It won't be long until we start complaining about bugs