Ask an expert

23 Apr 2006

Getting dog to come when called
Hi, I was wondering if you could perhaps help with a problem I have with my dog. We have three dogs, two great danes (male and female) and a Scottie. My female Great Dane, aged 2 is unlike my other Danes I have had in my life, being very excitable and not too obedient. Danes, in general are easy to train and easy to work with. Maggie is a lovely intelligent dog but we have a problem with her. We walk them on an enclosed field every day, (not on leads) and she is fine until another car drives in or someone else walks onto the field either with their dog or just for a walk. She runs over at great speed to say hello, frightening the daylights out of everyone (as she is so big) and then jumps up and scratches their car. She loves other dogs and as a puppy I walked her on the beach where she encountered many dogs every day and loves to rush up and play with them, therefore she has been socialised. I just cannot control her when she is like this, she will not come when called and worse still has taught the male Great Dane to follow her, so I have two uncontrollable dogs. Apart from walking her on a lead, how can I get Maggie to listen to me when I call her, she always listens when she is not in an excited state and is generally a very well behaved dog.
Answer 378 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Lynne

Well, that is alot of dog to have uncontrolled. Shame, I feel for you. The best is to train her in a positive reinforcement based manner. With this type of training, you get to go to a small class and she gets to train with distractions. You have to find something that works for her a treat, a toy, etc.
Below is some information for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries on 083 324 8423
Animal Behaviourist

By Jan Fennell – The Dog Listener

At least five minutes after your dog has finished its repertoire, making sure you have not separated in the meantime, you should invite your dog to come to you. Once again, you should not set yourself up for failure here. In the early stages of my method, you should remember to have food reward available whenever you are around your dog.

If necessary, you can squat or kneel at this stage. It is important that eye contact is made an your dog is called by its name. If it is a new dog, it may not know its name yet, but the word association will quickly be made if it is repeated. The invitation you make should be warm rather than authoritarian. It should be the voice of someone inviting over a friend rather than the bark of a barrack-square sergeant major. If your dog is reluctant at first, stretch out to it, extending your arm with the food reward visible.

It is vitally important to ensure at this early stage that the food reward is presented on your terms. The sight and smell of food may well bring a dog scurrying over automatically. Dogs are opportunist eaters, remember, so premature approaches like this must be ignored. If your dog persists in trying to get at the food, remove the tidbit from sight or, if necessary, move away from the situation and begin again a few minutes later when the dog has become calm once more.

Dogs must learn from the outset that the food is not automatically theirs to enjoy. I call it a reward for good reason: they must earn it. Another key thing to watch out for here is that it is important that your dog accepts the food calmly. If the dog comes over, it should be rewarded with the food, given warm but quiet praise, and stroked or ruffled on its head, shoulders and neck. This neck area is hugely symbolic as it represents the dog’s most vulnerable spot, something a leader would naturally recognize in the wild.

If your dog comes over and jumps up, or rushes at you, you must get up and walk away. You must react in the same way if your dog gets overexcited and flops over onto its back, begging to be tickled. Many owners find this difficult, but your dog must learn the consequences of its actions at this early stage. It must accept your status as the leader – and one of the leader’s privileges is deciding how, when, and where affection is given out. If your dog doesn’t respond to the come at all, you must also walk away. In all these cases, your dog should be left alone for an hour or so before the routine is begun all over again.

This approach may seem harsh, but it is far better to turn around and restart the journey now than take this wrong turn and continue down a road that will lead to major problems later on. If you long to fuss over your dog, all you have to do is get up from where you are, walk across the room, and call your dog to you. If it complies with this, you can make all the fuss of the dog you like.

Your goal is that, by the end of the first separation, your dog should have learned to relax completely, come to you on request, and accept a food reward without leaping in your face. Of course, it is not always going to happen at the first attempt.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.