Fido used to come when you called him and now he doesn't -- what's with that?
Here's a suggestion for when your dog starts to ignore your "come" command. While it may not work overnight, you will see results in a short time and it will be well worth the little effort it takes.
Here's what you do: While you are in the yard or in a situation that doesn't really warrant calling him -- call him anyway, and give him a snack or do something fun like tossing a Frisbee a few times. Just Keep practicing and rewarding when he comes. The most common mistake made with the "come" command, is once they learn it, we only use it when it really counts to you and by then they may have gotten out of the habit. So if you practice, seriously - only about 3-4 times a week, twice a day for 2 -3 weeks you should see a difference. Always have a couple of snacks in your pocket, and for no reason at all and totally unexpected, ask him to come, give him a snack or some play time. There is bound to be a day in the future you will thank yourself for taking this extra time to keep your dog's skills polished.
Why Bobbie Won’t Come
IMPROVING YOUR DOG'S RECALL
It's time to leave for work, yet Bobbie the border collie is ignoring your pleas to come into the house. As you reach for his collar, he dashes away with a "catch me if you can" gleam in his eyes. Is there anything more frustrating than a dog who doesn't come when called?
In an ideal world, when the dog hears, "Bobbie, come!" he should drop what he is doing and fly toward his caretaker, being careful to rein in his speed just enough to execute the perfect toe-to-toe sit with his commander in chief. Sadly, many dogs think the command to come is an invitation for a game of canine keep-away. How did your dog's skills go from perfectpuppy "recall"—the standard dog-training
term for coming when called—at three months of age to this frustrating and dangerous behavior as an adult? In order to figure out the answer to this question, consider what "come" now means to your dog.
Does it mean that you are about to do something unpleasant but necessary to the dog? This includes trimming his nails, giving him a pill, popping him in the bath, or restricting his freedom so you can go off to work. Don't color the come command with negative connotations—just go get the dog without a command if what follows isn't particularly rewarding. There is no need to warn him that he won't like what follows.
Does "come" mean the end of a good time? If you only call your dog to come into the house or to leave the dog run, why would he want to comply? However, if you begin to call him a half-dozen times or so during an outing, pop a treat in his mouth, and send him back for more play, he'll learn that obeying the command most likely will be beneficial to him.
Does "come" mean the dog must come each and every time he is called? Most dog owners think that is what they are teaching, when in
fact they are not consistent about making the dog comply. Until the dog proves reliable under many circumstances, regardless of environment, level of distraction, and distance from the handler, he should not be off-leash and expected to come when called. If the dog is not on a leash or long line and cannot be reeled in (made to comply), the recall command should not be used. Why let the dog think that "come" is a multiple-choice request?
Begin with the dog on a six-foot lead. Let him get interested in something and then call, "Bobbie, come," in an upbeat voice while running backward, away from the dog. As you are running, hold a treat at the dog's nose level to serve as a lure. When the dog is a few steps away, raise the treat up a bit while telling the dog to sit.
After the dog sits, reach out, grab his collar, and reward him with the treat. When the dog has achieved perfection at this level in a variety of environments, graduate to using a 15-to-30-foot line or retractable leash. (Do not use retractable leads on crowded sidewalks or busy streets.) Increase the difficulty quotient by employing an assistant to distract the dog with food, toys, or another dog.
As the recall improves, there will be no need to run backward or give a treat every time, but the command itself always should sound upbeat and welcoming to the dog. When you get unhesitating compliance 100 percent of the time when using a long line, begin off-leash training in confined areas. If the dog begins to tune you out, take a step
backward and begin using light lines like light nylon cord until you get compliance.
One of the crucial components to a great recall is a strong bond with your dog. Have you encouraged your dog to frequently check in with you whether he's on leash or off? Reward eye contact—even if it's with little more than a smile. Disappear from your dog behind the garage or a tree and make him seek you out. Insist he request permission
before he is allowed to bound off leash, and end the fun when he chooses to forget you're there. Be persistent when teaching this command. The perfect recall will not only get you to work on time, but it may also one day save your dog's life.
Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT
ASPCA Companion Animal Programs Adviser
National Shelter Outreach
DON'T LEAVE YOUR PET OUT IN THE COLD
On extremely cold days and nights take you pet inside. Some pets may even require a warm sweater.
When outside make sure your pet has the proper shelter and fresh water. If your dog sleeps in a dog house hay can be used as an insulator, do not use blankets they can get moist and freeze.
Staying warm in the winter requires extra calories, so adjust your pet's diet accordingly .
Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when she comes in out of the rain, snow or ice. Salt, antifreeze or other chemicals could hurt your dog if ingested.
Animals like the sweet taste of antifreeze. Just a few sips can kill your pet, so please store antifreeze containers away from pets and promptly clean up any spills. Seek medical help if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze.
Introducing a New Dog to a Resident Dog
Dogs are best introduced with both dogs restrained on a leash. If you are confident of your resident dog's good nature and good social behavior, you may not need the leash. Unless the new dog is a young puppy or juvenile, it is probably best to use a leash. Though it is difficult to predict how dogs will interact, most adult dogs tolerate the clumsiness of puppies and juveniles. Problems are more likely between two adult animals when one or both have been unfriendly toward other dogs.
Ideally, introduce the dogs on neutral territory that is unfamiliar to both dogs or where neither one has been for long. If this cannot be conveniently arranged, let them greet on the outside perimeters of the resident dog's territory. This may be in your neighborhood at a distance from your home. In the heart of your dog's territory, such as inside your home, conflicts are more likely to occur.
As much as possible, place the new dog in a "down/stay" position in the resident dog's presence. Teach teh new dog to accept a submissive position in deference to your resident dog, creating a clear basis for their relationship. This should help control their initial encounter so that they can gradually work out their social status by subtle challenges and with only minor conflict later. If your resident dog has a passive and submissive temperament, the new dog can be designated as the dominant one.
If problems escalate, separate the dogs and slowly reintroduce them under careful supervision. In cases of extreme aggression by either or both dogs toward the other, it is probably not worthwhile to preceed.
Introducing a New Dog to a Resident Cat
Cats that have had positive experiences with dogs early in life are more likely to welcome a new pet dog. Before introducing a cat to a dog, it is important to determine if the dog will harm the cat.
Some adult dogs that have never previously seen a cat show no aggression toward one. If a dog's predatory instinct toward cats is strong, however, it is likely to be displayed immediately and with little advance warning. For this reason, restrain the dog on a firmly held short leach and do not allow the cat to come within the dog's biting range.
Even if there is no reason to suspect a problem, you should still restrain your new dog when it meets your cat. Young puppies (younger than 3 months) are unlikely to harm and adult cat. Though there are always exceptions, young animals are unlikely to turn against other animals when they are raised together.
Keep 'Em Working
BREED-BASED ACTIVITIES FOR BORED DOGS
There was a time when every dog had a job. The border collie herded sheep, and the komondor guarded them. The Siberian husky moved the men of the North, while the Alaskan malamute hauled freight.
Depending on geography and game, any number of breeds helped bring home dinner. Meanwhile, back at the homestead, terriers kept busy chasing the fox out of the henhouse and exterminating any vermin that crossed their path.
Today, unemployment has hit the dog world hard. And without work, all too many of our canine companions occupy themselves with destructive chewing and digging. They liven up their days with choruses of barks and howls, and generally worry themselves into a dither. In other words, they are bored and underexercised! The
solution is increased exercise and structured play.
A walk around the block or a ten-minute romp in the backyard several times a day is minimal exercise, and is not enough to meet the average dog's needs. Active breeds (dogs from the sporting, herding, hound, and terrier groups, northern breeds, or any mixtures of these)
and virtually all adolescents (dogs who are six to 18 months old) require much, much more.
Brisk on-leash jogging, race walking, or strolling several miles can tire out Bonkers. Playing Frisbee or retrieving a tennis ball in a fenced-in enclosure is wonderful aerobic exercise. Road working your dog by bicycle or in-line skates can tire out the likes of just about any boxer or Doberman.
Make sure you have veterinary approval for any of these high-level activities, especially if your dog has been the neighborhood couch potato lately. Start slowly in order to build up your dog's stamina, strengthen his muscles, and toughen the pads of his feet. If your canine is dog friendly, the neighborhood dog run is the urban owner's best friend. What could be better than a safe, fenced-in area where your dog can run offleash with his own kind? But it is important to be sure that you are able to call your dog out of the play group (and
that your dog will respond appropriately) in case there is an emergency and everyone needs to swiftly get hold of his or her own dog.
Base your play on the jobs your dog's forefathers used to perform. Most golden and Labrador retrievers, for example, are naturals at water retrieving tennis balls or nubby rubber bumpers. Corgis and border collies are in seventh heaven when herding a giant boomer ball. Bichons frises and Maltese delight in trick training. Beagles will excel at biscuit hunts around your property.
Many dogs enjoy a rousing game of tug of war, but beware: teaching a dog that he is stronger than you can be hazardous to your health! If the dog growls in a menacing manner (as opposed to a play growl) or stiffly stands over the tug toy and snarls, abort the game. This
activity is not appropriate for your dog. Perhaps he'll do better with one of the many food-dispensing toys on the market. Make him work for his breakfast kibbles!
Remember that as the leader you must always be in control of these games—when, where, and for how long Bonkers gets to play. Increasing your exercise time together may just add a sparkle to the eye and a spring to the step for both of you!
Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT
ASPCA Companion Animal Programs Adviser
National Shelter Outreach