Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 131 - Come!

As a dog trainer, I preach a lot of practical knowledge but don't always get to practice it. One such example (and free advice for you dog owners out there) is the command, "Come". While I do practice and teach the actual command to my students, I have never actually practiced the emergency advice I give.

While not advised to practice this as a rule, I advise my students that when in the training phase if your dog escapes you and does not know the command "Come", instead of chasing your dog (which turns into a great game for your dog) you should call it's name and run away from it. The expected result is that your dog will more then likely follow you. This has always been the theory, but I've never tested it. Until now.

A small Havanese-mix and I went to work on her training. Her parents insisted she was crazy and perhaps dumb, however she did everything I requested. The longer her parents talked, the more I was witness to their bad behaviors that led to a confused dog. I pointed out their behaviors that needed correction and continued to work with the pup. They were amazed at how well their dog listened to me. "Well of course", I thought to myself, "clear directions do tend to work better then garbled messages".

"She runs away ALL the time!", they insisted. And that's when I set fear aside, and put theory to test. First I chased her, to demonstrate how she would run for me as if it were a game of chase, and sure enough, she ran from me. I quickly turned the tables, called her name and gobbled like a turkey (exciting noise to catch her attention) as I ran away from her. When I reached the door of the training center, guess who was right behind me? That's right, the little "dumb" white pup! She had followed just as my theory expected her to. It was one of the coolest dog training moments for me to see theory turn into fact.

Going out on a limb today to test theory was well worth it. Not only did I grow as a trainer, but I got the parents to sign themselves up for some much needed human training, err, I mean dog training! It was a win-win situation.

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