Friday, September 28, 2012

Tips for Helping Your Pup
Become a Willing Tagalong

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
Build Trust Thru Mutual Adventures

Togetherness-Oriented Activities
 Help Build a Bond
Dear Carrie:

How can I get my dogs to hang close to me when off leash? My dogs are Papillons, and fairly well-trained on leash and in the house; but when free, all bets are off. They both wander off to explore and often go too far and won't come when I call. Is there a way to teach the bonding that I see in many dogs, where they are always aware of their people and want to be near even when loose? I live by a park (not a fully enclosed dog park) and would love to let them run with the neighbors' dogs, but can't trust them to stay out of the street or not disappear around the corner. They always come home eventually, but I need them to stay with me. Can you help?
Dear reader:

Car Seats Allow More Front-Seat Safety
and 'Conversation' While Out Together
What a great question! Papillons are people-oriented dogs who often become very attached to their people. However, this does take time. A few tips that I have found have worked with my dogs, including my Papillon, Oliver:

Train daily on the 'Come when called' command. This one could save their lives one day. NEVER scold your dog for not coming, but make a big fuss when he puts an effort into it: treats, pets, belly rubs, praise!

Canine Companionship
Enroll in agility classes with your Paps one at a time. After a few months you'll notice that they begin to 'Watch Me' and stick to you more outside of the agility class as well. This is a key skill in this sport that translates nicely to keeping your pet focused on you. If agility is not available to you, simply work on the 'Watch Me' command, practicing it many times each day. Here's how: Hold a high value treat just above your eyes and say "Watch me!". When you dog makes eye contact, give him the treat and praise him. Practice frequently.

Maintain Socialization
Walk you dog on his leash daily, practicing the Watch me command throughout the walk. This will pair the Watch Me and the 'walking beside you' behaviors. Be sure to praise for good behavior frequently, and treat often as well. 

I would be amiss if I didn't warn you to keep the treats tiny and under control. Praise and petting should be at the forefront of the positive reinforcement, and eventually you won't need treats at all. However, treats do work well at first to get the behavior jump-started.
Weekly Wag Button
Be patient and diligent and you'll get the desired behavior. An independent Pap will often take a bit more diligence in getting them to stick close, but take care to also maintain socialization. This balancing act is very tough to maintain. They love people and dogs, and it is important to maintain that love, along with their ability to handle canine social situations. The key is daily practice, even if only a few minutes. You'll get there in time. Just remember that it is a journey, not a destination. Then you'll be less likely to get frustrated.

This post is part of the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop hosted by Life with Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and  Confessions of the Plume. Bloggers can link up here or visit any of these links to read the rules of participation.


Foley Monster and Pocket said...

Glad I came upon your blog on the blog hop. Lots of useful information.

natalie nessi said...

Good thing I stumbled upon your site. I have a new pup and I need to tame her and build some trust. Those tips you've shared will truly help. Thanks!
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Dawn said...

Great tips! "Watch me", "Focus", or "Look" is a command I have heard about but never actually applied. They already watch me like hawks when I have a treat so I guess I would need to start using the command and gradually apply it without treats.

Thomas Drummond said...

Thanks for helping me with this one. I have a Shih tzu which are super hyper and playful. He can't stay on one place on the car when we are on the road.

Pet Club India said...

Nice tips,more useful information for helpful me, thanks...

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

@Thomas Drummond: Sounds like you need a seatbelt for your Shih Tsu!

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