Q & A: Calling me?

Q: Why do dogs sometimes just ignore us when we call their names, although there is nothing wrong with their hearing?

A: This is quite common and usually happens if coming when called isn’t a rewarding or positive experience. It should always be a good experience for a dog.

If you’ve ever struggled to get your dog to come to you when you called, but then reprimanded him for taking so long, he has learnt that coming to you makes you angry – the opposite of what you want.

So always praise your dog, even rewarding him with treats when he comes, even if it took longer than you would have liked.

Calling your dog in an angry voice won’t encourage him to come to you either; it may even cause him to run in the opposite direction.

Always use a happy, excited, upbeat tone of voice. Set your dog up for success by providing opportunities for him to succeed, especially when he’s still learning.

If he’s just found something really interesting to smell, he’s unlikely to respond. Rather call him when you know he’s more likely to respond, while working towards the ultimate goal of him always responding when you call.

Dogs don’t generalise, so practise calling your dog in different locations and environments.

Even the most well-trained dogs may not always come when called, but ensuring that the experience is always positive, will greatly increase your chances of success.

Alyson Kingsley-Hall, behaviourist

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