Many dog lovers often tell me that despite best efforts their pooch ignores them! He refuses to come when called and if they try to go near him the dog sneaks under the bed and growls if forced to come out. Many owners get snapped by such dogs. One of the owners says that his dog refuses to return from the walk and if allowed to roam freely he just bolts to return after any number of hours. All such problems reflect either apathy or ignorance of the owners.
I have often repeated that dogs are creatures of routine and learn by experience and association of ideas. If you acquire a new pup and from day one if you stick to a routine, you will be surprised to see that the pup awaits your next move eagerly. For example if you give him his first feed at 7 in the morning, the pup will after two-three days start waiting near his feeding place. It is up to you to decide a place and a bowl to feed him. If you go on changing his place every now and then and feed him in a variety of bowls he will remain baffled. In all probability he will start peeping in to your food bowls and may even try to have a mouthful.
The habit of keeping a dog through a routine involves rigorous discipline on your part. You have to discipline yourself for that. For example, it is best to keep his leash at a place near the exit from the house and attach the leash before leaving the house. You will find in no time the pup will start waiting for you to pick up the leash and attach it to his collar. Over a period of time his ‘mental leash’ will stop him from moving out of the house unless a leash is put on.
Thus you see how easy it is to teach dog certain things without even communicating a word to him. Once you return from his outing make it a habit to pat him a lot and make fuss around at the time you take off the leash from his collar. Initially you may have to offer him a treat as well on return just after you have removed the leash. This will ensure that the pup finds returning hope a great excitement of a treat and lots of petting by you. He would now love to walk with you towards the home and eagerly await his reward from you.
Most of the problems regarding indiscipline arise because the owners themselves are not disciplined. For example, if you let your pup play with other dogs in the park one day and next day you expect him to return with you with the same ease as on other days, you are mistaken. Playing with his mates is most interesting past time for a pup/dog. It is more interesting than the treat at home. Since you changed his routine and gave him the opportunity to play with other dogs now you have to devise ways and means to discipline him to return home with you easily!
Way out for this problem is to carry a treat in your pocket and offer him, if he comes to you, leaving his mate. With the help of the treat you leash him and cajole him to come home. No point losing your cool on him because you gave him the freedom to play with other dogs in the park.
Apart from self-discipline you have to inculcate many habits. For example, you break the routine one day leaving the pup alone in the house and all free by himself. Left alone without his mates (family members) do you expect the pack animal like a dog to be a gentleman and sit quietly? Never; he will scratch the door, gnaw through the furniture, howl and make puddles all over the place. And ultimately get thrashed by you for no fault of his! It takes long time to teach dog to remain alone in the house for two hours at a stretch. Beyond that no dog can live alone without causing destruction. Thus a two pronged training is required, one to teach him to remain alone while free in the house and second to remain alone in his cage/kennel, without the freedom to roam around. All these techniques I have discussed in my earlier blogs therefore no point repeating them here.
Once you have disciplined yourself and begun to live in a routine you have to remember to reward the dog each time he obeys your command. This should be such a strict routine that dog should always be sniffing your pockets for the lucrative treats stored there. The moment you are able to win his confidence that come what may he will be rewarded if he obeys-he will await your commands to earn his rewards. The complaint that ‘my dog does not listen to me’ holds no water if you have disciplined yourself and reared your dog within that regimen.
Some breeds of dogs like, Doberman are extremely intelligent and swift. They will obey the command, take their reward and immediately break the discipline. For example, your dobe is busy gnawing a bone. You call him to take him out for a walk. He finds the bone more fascinating. He will come smartly and sit in front of you. The moment you push the reward into his mouth with lots of praise he will just bolt and go back to his corner to continue gnawing the bone. Many of them are known to growl or even bare their fangs if forced leave the bone. For such breeds extra precautions are required. The moment he comes to you someone should shut the entrance to his cage/kennel so that he is not able to swiftly go back. Plus you should first attach the leash then reward him. Once outside on the walk the same dog will behave perfectly normal. After the walk, unleash him and reward him by allowing him to go back to his bone.
In order to rear dogs to perfection many precautions are required. For example, most adult dogs are known to sniff a bitch in season within a radius of one kilometer from the house. They try to reach the bitch by hook or by crook. Thus if you have a smaller spring door affixed to your gate which opens inwards, it would prevent your dog from the very beginning to sneak out by the time you open the gate. A gate that opens outwards gives enough space to the dog to sneak past, but an inward opening gate gets obstructed by your body.
The association between you and your dog should not be that of a strict disciplinarian teacher and a meek student. On the opposite it should be a friendship of lots of play and fuss, but with a routine which gives the dog an opportunity to associate whatever you ask him to do with pleasure. In no time you will find the dog, instead of creating mischief await your command. Once a camaraderie between you and your dog is established he will never ignore you.