My dog experienced squirrels in trees this summer–‑taunting her. I would let her have fun with that, (barking and jumping at, and on the trees) then call her, and she would come and we would continue our walk thru the woods. Now, she will not come, and when I tromp through the woods to get her, she runs. My serenity walk is no longer serene. HELP!
Hugs and kisses
Dear Hugs and Kisses:
So, your dog has obviously found a new game on the trail, hide-n-seek with you! By chasing after her, you are merely reinforcing a behavior you don’t want. At the same time, she is having a ball. You must change the game if you are not having fun!
On your serenity walk, have a bag of extra special treats in your pocket and make sure she knows it. Let her watch you place them in a bag and in your pocket. You might start this training in the house, before you ever hit the trail. Practice saying her name and when she comes to you, give her a treat. And when you go out for a walk, before she wanders too far in the woods, call her back and reward her with a yummy treat.
Regular dog treats often don’t work for changing behavior, you must up the ante with something special such as a hotdog, cheese, bacon, or anything she simply can’t resist. Be sure the amount you feed her is a small bite, you definitely don’t want her gaining weight. By offering her the treat when she obeys, you are actually communicating to her your expectation. Once the behavior is set, you can decrease or eliminate the treats, and replace them with a Good Girl.
Your first couple of walks may be chaotic until she gets the hang of it, but believe me she will. If she wanders off and won’t come when you call, don’t run after her. Change the game and have her find you. Hide behind a tree and be still, or keep walking. This might seem scary at first but she will find you. And when she does, say her name and offer her the treat.
The idea is to make coming to you much more interesting than chasing a squirrel. Happy Walking!
e-mail your question to: email@example.com