Dear Canine Point of View,
What can I do to make my dog come when I call him? Sometimes he comes, and other times he acts like he doesn’t hear me and runs the other way. Do you have any advice?
Rebecca and “Bain”, Orford, NH
I am asked this question all too often, and there are certainly a few important things to keep in mind when training a dog to reliably come when called.
1. Always use a happy, upbeat voice. For your dog, upbeat voices are generally a predictor of good things. Deep, angry voices tend to cause dogs to be hesitant in coming your way. No matter what Bain has done, always be super happy when calling him to you. Tone of voice and facial expressions will prompt Bain to run towards you, not away from you.
2. Only call Bain if you are positive you’ll get the response you want; otherwise it’s a waste of breath causing you to be more frustrated. If he’s in the middle of playing or chasing something, chances are he’s not going to come running to you if you’ve never taught him to do so. Besides, chasing things or rolling in dead things is historically more rewarding than coming to you…until now.
3. Practice makes perfect! First with no distractions, then build up one distraction at a time. Until Bain becomes conditioned to run to you immediately after calling him, it’s unlikely to happen.
4. Motivation! Give Bain a great reason to come running to you. Use “high value” food motivators to reward him when he comes. Pencil eraser size pieces of hot dog, cheese cubes or deli ends work wonders. He will soon start to learn that “Bain! Come! = High Value Reward.
With dogs, it’s all about association and doing what works for them. Dog training requires patience and consistency, and considering what is highly motivating from their point of view, not ours.
Dear Canine Point of View,
My new puppy Kayla barks, cries and whines in her crate, but I would really like her to be crate trained. How do I teach her to like her crate and want to be in it?
Lisa, Wilder, VT
It’s always exciting to welcome a new addition into your family. Here are some quick and simple tricks, to help Kayla acclimate. Dogs learn by association and the most important rule is to begin by creating a positive association with the crate. Start by simply feeding Kayla in her crate. Placing her food bowl just inside the crate so she sticks her head in to eat, is one way to start this association. All new toys and yummy things to chew on, should be tossed into the crate so she’ll go in to get them. The goal is about having all good things happen when she’s around the crate. Sit on the floor a few feet away from the crate and gently toss a high value treat (cheese or hot dogs bits work well) one at a time into the crate. She should enter to get the treat and come back out. That’s your cue to toss another one in. Do this a few times in a row throughout the day to help continue building a great association. Comfy bedding is a must and leaving the door open when you are not actively training is also important. Short training sessions throughout the day for a few days, will work wonders in the long run. When she’s happy staying in the crate, gently shut the door without latching it. Offer a high value treat through the wire door and then swing the door open wide so she can come right back out. Briefly work for longer periods of time in the crate with the door shut, rewarding her for remaining calm and quiet when she’s in there. Always be sure to wait for her to be quiet before opening the door, once she has learned to like her crate. After you’ve spent a little training time you’ll be well on your way to forming a bond between your pup and her crate!
Please submit questions for this column and Michelle, by visiting www.4legsandatail.com
* Michelle Grimes CPDT-KA, owner of K9 Insights is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer & Behavior Consultant specializing in Positive Reinforcement Training for all breeds of dogs. She is co-founder of Long Trail Canine Rescue, works locally as a Veterinary Technician and is proudly owned by 3 rescue “Bully Breeds”. She can be reached at Michelle@k9insights.com or through her website at www.k9insights.com