You don’t say how old your dog is. But this is a common problem with adolescent dogs – from the age of about 10 months. As dogs become adolescent – like people – they learn that there may be more exciting things beyond the safety of the family unit. As such – the treatment for this typically involves trying to make you – the owner – more exciting than the other things around. What does your dog like to do? If your dog likes to sniff – find a Scentwork UK instructor and teach your dog some games centred around keeping his nose entertained, with you in charge. If you have a gun dog, perhaps kind and reward-based gun dog training would be useful. Terriers – they often like to chase squirrels and so getting a long lunge whip with a cuddly toy attached, and playing with your dog as you would with a cat, can be a really handy way of keeping focus on you. If you’re not sure what to do even just simple training and games can help re-establish the bond with your dog – walking to heel, teaching a look at me, or control at a distance an be great fun for all. At the very least, try taking some tasty treats out with you and practise recall with no distractions – call your dog back to you in a high pitched and fun voice, when they reach you, touch them under the chin and reward. Gradually increase the level of distraction!
And remember never punish your dog for not coming back to you – this will destroy any chance of recall that you may have had really quickly! Always remain happy when they come back to you – however long it has taken!
A good trainer should be able to help.
Penaran Higgs BSc Psychology, PgDip CABC (Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling)