3 Steps: Keeping Your Dog Close When Unleashed

You can start this training right at home, and it can be fun too!

One of the biggest complaints from dog owners when they take their dog off his lead is, "As soon as I let my dog off his lead he runs and it's difficult to get him to come back." The angry shouting and tiring chases, frustrate many owners to completely give up taking their dog on walks. Many owners don't understand why their dogs who followed them everywhere when they were puppies, suddenly change, and dart away from them as though they are total strangers, the moment the leash is removed.

Most dogs do not get sufficient exercise and the only exercise they get is being taken outdoors to relieve themselves. From the dog's point of view he is taken out, he "performs his duty" and then is taken straight back indoors, which to him seems like a punishment. If he has an extra sniff for a moment or two he is punished with shouting, and sometimes even abuse by some owners as they smack him for not running back indoors the moment he was finished.

The same thing happens when a dog is taken for a walk. Remember that he is looking forward to this outing very much, but even when he behaves as you wish, in his mind his reward is still to be taken straight home. If you try to think like your dog, you may find your frustration level will decrease as you discover his actions and responses aren't based in bad behavior, but by his need for exercise and perhaps confusion as to why he can't stay outdoors.

A simple change in your behavior can begin to alter this behavior. Dogs should be taken out for their walk as a form of reward. Try taking him on his walk as soon as he finishes relieving himself outdoors. Dogs must be allowed to explore, and sniff but at the same time must learn that they need to come when called. You can start this training in the home. In fact, this training can be fun and is an excellent way to bond even further with your dog.

Following these steps will help teach your dog acceptable behavior at all times, when he is on a lead, as well as when the lead is removed:

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  1. Whenever you call your dog always bend down in a crouched position. Open your legs and arms; this is a welcoming posture.
  2. Always call your dog in the same, soft, calm and loving voice. When he comes to you, immediately give him a friendly cuddle and a treat. This human behavior will encourage the dog to come back to you every time and he will come to associate your command as rewarding and no longer a threat. With this new behavior, your dog now gets a treat and some affection, rather than a return indoors which he considered a punishment. However, it is most important to release the dog and walk away from him afterwards. By doing this we now turn the tables, we walk away from him.
  3. If your dog is walking towards you always bend down; again call him in a soft voice and give him a treat and again walk away. Continue to do this several times with every walk, and even when letting him outdoors to relieve himself. This repetition and consistency will train your dog to come to you whenever he is called.
  4. A good idea when going for a walk is to take a toy like a ball and get involved in games, to help encourage your dog to drop the toy. Once he drops the toy, offer him a treat. By doing this, the dog must drop his ball to obtain his treat, so the ball game can continue. In one easy lesson the dog learns to bring back the ball, drop it for a treat. The key here is that he is not on a lead, but learns to remain within the sight sound of you, and also to come willingly without a chase.
  5. Now comes the real object of the exercise, when you are cuddling your dog, put him back on his lead and carry on the walk for one minute, then let him off the lead, after a few repetitions your dog will learn that the lead is no longer a threat, but instead a signal that the walk has not come to an end. Your dog will learn that the lead means nothing and certainly does not indicate that he is being captured to be taken home.

Put your dog on and off the lead as much as possible. Play games with him while you are out and about and both of you will enjoy the walk a lot more. Your dog will always come back because he wants more fun and attention from you!

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