Or subheading -: ‘Running away, calling!!’
OK, a subject I speak on nearly every week to someone, so I thought id write it once and be done with it and hope its useful and food for thought.
Its such common advice to ‘run away calling’ when your dog runs up to another dog or person etc etc.
However I REALLY wouldn’t be running in the other direction when your dog does this. Its such commonly given advice and I hate to be the party pooper on following it but:
1) If your dog does not obey you at 2 yards from you it will not obey you at 200 yards.
A dog that has the self confidence to take off and take itself 150 yards from you is not going to be overly bothered that you are…. ‘Fidoooo Fidooooo Fido i’m LEAVING!! I’m going!!! See ya!!!!’ etc etc as you run away… So if its blanking you at 2, you won’t EXIST at 200 … or not till he’s good and ready anyway.
2) Meantime, the person the dog is running up to, sees you disappearing, running into the distance, and rightly should feel rather aggrieved. Yes its a regular method to try and get the dog back… based on the dog ‘suddenly getting insecure and panicing and racing after you….but imagine if you have a sensitive dog, or are a bit dog wary yourself, and the owner is skipping away even FURTHER…. its not exactly going to endear you to the situation. And chances are THEY then have to deal with the situation because your dog is away from you AND you are miles away. Then we get cross when people shout or whack or kick out at our dogs etc etc. But you aren’t there to give them the confidence you are in charge.
3) If your dog starts to follow that dog or person… or worse still the dog yours is approaching panics and bolts with your dog chasing after it, you are EVEN further away to DO anything about it.
4) Commands and voices sound very different at 2 yards, 20 yards and 200 yards. A dog who reliably understands and complies at 2 yards… may not at 20. And definitely won’t at 200, so if you genuinely want to feel your dog ‘KNOWS WHAT I’M TELLING HIM, because he does it when I call him at 20 yards…’ get out and PROOF it.
Sit him up at 200 yards, and recall him. Take him back, sit him up at 200 yards and call him. Over a few weeks do it 50 times!! TEACH him what you look like at 200 yards and what your commands SOUND like at 200 yards. he may still ignore them if he chooses to, BUT you have some confidence that he has seen you at that distance and complied, and he has HEARD you at that distance and complied. A dog gets called at 20 yards 100 times a week…. but how often do they get called when they have streaked off and are now 200 yards? Not often. It needs working on BETWEEN.
Why do we do the running away yelling thing? Answer: To make it look like we are DOING something to the person involved. No other single reason. Once in a blue moon it will work. Usually when the dog is still young and genuinely insecure (he soon won’t be) and secondly when he sees a negative response from the dog is is bowling up to if even vaguely sensitive to canine body language (some aren’t sadly!!)
If the dog has gone that hard and fast, we KNOW we aren’t stopping him. We KNOW he will only **** an ear to us when he fancies, be that when he sees the dog is unfriendly by body language, OR when he has played himself out if they are ‘welcoming’.
So don’t DO it! All you teach the dog is he can ignore you!! He can hear 47 shouts of his name, hand clapping, you running off like Lindford Christie, and he gains 100% security in the fact you can’t do naff all about it, your commands aren’t to be complied with and he is on his own so he best make the best of it.
So, what DO you do then? Well the simple and quick answer is train for this don’t just respond to it when it happens in situ, in reality, on a walk.. but that’s a whole other post.
What you DON’T do is say a single word. You see your dog do that ‘freeze and goooooo’. Get walking. Get running if you want. But TOWARDS your dog NOT away!!! You are saying nothing, you are asking nothing, you are commanding nothing so you ARE NOT CHASING THE DOG OR GIVING IN TO HIM.
However what you ARE doing is showing the person being run up to that you are coming to take control of the situation. As you close the gap you give yourself the chance to communicate with that person be it an apology or simply a ‘stand still’ or a ‘please don’t pat him when he jumps up at you, PLEASE!!’…..
Also you have about 100% more chance that your dog, because its MUCH more familiar will comply with your command at 20 yards than 200.
So get walking/running. Say NOTHING even out of embarrassment to the owner, do NOT call…. you are making things right by COMING. You don’t need to then chuck loads of useless verbage at your dog which is actually aimed at the person thinking you have no control etc etc.
Get to a ‘safe distance’ and that could be 5 yards…. might be further if your dog is not usually a culprit to do this…. wait for a moments respite in the play or whatever… and squeak that ball and use that voice. You will shock the pants off your dog because in his red mist he was thinking you were 150 yards up the track and suddenly ‘here you are!!’. Suddenly you are Harry Potter to Fido.
Rustle that treat bag, use the ‘whats this, whats THIS????’ type thing to get him back and as he turns and COMES….. THEN throw in (if you can try and remember!!) a ‘come!! Gooooooooood come Fido… woooo! Come!!!’
Then hand on the collar…. VERY important. Secure the ‘package’ …… Forget arguing with said person, apologising, explaining, waffling etc etc for a few seconds whilst you ANCHOR your hound.
THEN do your verbage. Brief or otherwise…. then walk away making yourself HUGELY interesting to your dog.
Yes in the scheme of things, you can chalk it up as a failure. but you have dealt with it as swiftly as is humanly possible. You have stayed in ‘control distance’. AND probably even more importantly, you have NOT taught your dog to ignore you!
Diana – May 2013