She doesn’t listen. Walks Aren’t Much Fun With Husky

Rescue Husky is a gentle and friencly family dogOrca is a three-year-old Husky who has been living with her new family for three months now.

She is proving to be a wonderful, loving and gentle addition to the family and has helped their 8-year-old daughter to get over a previous bad experience with a dog. The gentleman freqently takes Orca to work with him at his garage where she is hooked up for safety; she is as good as gold and friendly to everyone.

She ‘doesn’t listen’.

Out on walks however, Orca ‘doesn’t listen’ – especially when she is off lead. She has had the man waiting for two hours on several occasions. It’s not that she actually disappears but she stays out of reach!

I noticed at home that everything Orca wanted she got immediately. This was the case when she pawed him and when she jumped at him. Sometimes he reprimanded her, sometimes he actually fussed her when she did these things, whilst also saying they were behaviours that they didn’t want – especially with guests and the children’s friends.

Basically, every time Orca wants attention she gets it. Attention isn’t so freely available from the lady and consequently Orca pays more attention to her. You can easily understand how people adore her and want to fuss and touch her all the time.

Coming back when called

In addition to putting HuskyOrca1in some good recall training over a period of time both at home and when out, Orca needs to want to come back. As I often say, anything that is too readily on tap loses value, and this goes for an individual as well as for food. I did notice that when I ignored Orca’s jumping on me by tipping her off and then shortly afterwards I called her to me and offered her the attention under my own terms, she didn’t come. She just sat a little way away and looked at me! It illustrated my point perfectly.

The sort of jumping welcome I received seemed like a mix of excitement tinged with anxiety. It sounds like this is the sort of reaction she has to meeting other dogs when out. He needs to work at getting Orca’s attention on himself when required, rather than on other dogs. By earning her respect and attention at home through being a bit more consistent and not quite a pushover,  keeping her attention on him when out should be lot easier.

Changing one’s own behaviour in this respect can be quite hard if it goes against ones own nature, but playing a little hard to get can work wonders at times.

Come When Called. Ignores. Henry is a Scream

won't come when calledHenry is a wonderful two-year-old Springer with a mind of his own.

Catch me if you can

If the call him in from the garden, he knows when it’s important and when it’s not.

If they need to go to work or if it’s bedtime, He won’t come when called. He stands just out of reach and stares – catch me if you can!

They can’t leave him out barking in the garden at night, so they now entice him, bribe him or chase him.

Henry is just the same on walks. He simply won’t come when called.

The aim of my visit seemed simple. They need Henry to come when called straight away – but it’s really a lot more complicated.

Ignoring them gives Henry fun

The real problem is one of Henry finding his owners insufficiently relevant. The fun he gets out of winding them up is a lot more rewarding than anything else they have to offer.

They’ve not taught him to be respectful. He jumps all over his people like they are stepping stones to somewhere else. Everything lavished on Henry and their other Springer Eddie is unearned, so it’s not surprising that when they want something from him he just gives them ‘that look’! See the picture on the left.

On walks Henry can accurately judge the place where they will want to put him on lead, even when they think they are varying it. He’s always one step ahead.

Walks are ruined by his non-stop barking for the ball (which of course he gets to keep him quiet). He is obsessed with all plastic ball chuckers. No other dog owner playing ball with their dog is safe from his attentions! He will leap around to grab their ball-thrower.

Last weekend on the beach, with lots of dogs, balls and ball-throwers, was the final straw. He barked non-stop. His arousal levels were out of control. They called me.

Getting Henry’s attention

I demonstrated in a few minutes how I could get his full attention on me, and get him to do anything I asked straight away – including coming in from outside.

This isn’t about training as such – he knows basic commands. It’s psychology. I started by rationing my attention, by only giving it when his feet were on the ground and when he was polite so that he would respect me. I ignored some (not all) of his friendly advances.  Anything too freely available loses it’s value and the same applies to attention.

I also used tiny treats to thank him when he did as I asked. I first called the other dog Eddie and rewarded him for coming. I ignored Henry (who of course then came straight away).

Henry will come when called

Then I called Henry. Of course he came! Speaking quietly and giving commands just once, I put him through all the ‘tricks’ he’d been taught. He really enjoyed working for me. He needs some brain work not created by himself.

I predict that Henry will up his game now that his current ploys are thwarted – and he’ll think up other things!

He will probably become frustrated and try harder, so they will need to work patiently through this and keep on their toes. For now, if they need him in from the garden promptly, he should only go out on a long lead.

On walks it’s the same. He should have no opportunity to play them up so they will keep him on a long line – working on recall – using rewards.

At the end of the walk, when they put his short lead back on again, his reward can be the ball to carry. That way a ball now will be associated only with coming home.

Three weeks later: I am enjoying seeing Henry pogress and taking the dogs out has become really enjoyable again.

Problems on Walks

Heather is a beautiful Collie Retriever crossThese three things – pulling on lead, being reactive to other dogs and unreliable recall usually all go together. One seldom sees a dog that is walking calmly on a slack lead who is also on the alert for other dogs. A calm dog would have a certain relationship with the walker or owner – to do with respect and trust. This calm dog would be more likely to come back when called.

Heather, probably a cross between a Collie and some sort of Retriever, really is the model dog most of the time. It is her behaviour outside which lets her down. At home she is a polite dog, not pushy but not wanting too much touching and cuddling, but in a subtle way she rules the roost. She is, understandably, adored. Four young adults live in the house and all pay her homage! She has her owners working for her – doing things her way. They need to start to get her working for them instead! So long as dogs know what is required of them, they love this.

I demonstrated in the house how to get Heather following or walking beside me all over the place, longish lead completely loose. She was very happy with it. This exercise demonstrates the kind of relationship between dog and handler better than anything else. Initially most dogs will do this calmly for me but not for their owners. It is to do with how I have been behaving towards the dog from the moment I entered the house. She wants to work for me. This is the reason the owners need training as much as, if not more than the dog!

If they apply themselves Heather will soon be walking beautifully – relaxed and happy. They will know exactly how to react when they see another dog – but only if they need to. They will also work on Heather’s recall – and this will improve if in the house when they ask her to do something they only need to ask once – and they follow through. They should be sparing in their demands on her, but when they do ask her to do something, mean it.

If she ignores them at home – is it likely she will take note of them when they are out?

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

Rolo Won’t Come Back When Called

Chocolate Sabrador may stand and stare when asked to do somethingRolo is a stable and confident Chocolate Labrador, two years of age, and a great family pet.

Rolo is also a law unto himself! This isn’t too important at home, but it has become very important out on walks where he refuses to come back until he is ready – this can be a long time. He likes to freelance, which involves playing with any dog he can find, chasing off after distant dogs, and jumping up all over people. He also may lie down and go on strike if they’re not going in the direction he chooses. Consequently he is no longer let off lead.

He has been to training classes for eighteen months, so it’s not that he doesn’t understand what ‘Come’ means. It is that he chooses not to!

At home I soon noticed that he quietly did his own thing when called. He doesn’t come eagerly or promptly. He may simply look and walk away, he may stand and stare as if to say ‘try again’ or he may go and fetch something first. When I called him and he slowly came, he stood back a little so I had to lean to him and this is not because he’s shy! If he can get all the attention he wants anyway, when he wants it, there is little incentive for him to come when asked.

Good recall when out needs to start at home. It is not likely that he will come back when out with all the exciting distractions if when he is called from across the room he simply walks away!

The family need to learn to be more relevant. This is nothing to do with love, but respect. He needs to earn some of their attention. They need to show him that if they call him it is once only, and then after that if he wanders up in his own good time saying ‘I’m ready now’, their reaction is ‘Sorry, too late’. He also needs to learn that coming running immediately is going to be rewarding.

Only with the homework in place will they be ready to start on outdoor recall. Freedom is a thing for the future. There must be no more opportunities to practise freelancing.

With a structured plan in place, patiently working for weeks or even months until recall when called or whistled is automatic and programmed into him, against a background of work at home, Rolo should be ready to be let off lead. He should end up being a joy to walk.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.