Client Zara approached me for help with her rescue dog Lily, and in my previous posts I have addressed the following issues:
1. Pulling on lead. I also touched on Recall.
2. Dog reactivity
Now we shall concentrate on Lily’s ability to Recall consistently and reliably.
Does Lily always come to you when you call her name? Do you reward her with treats or a toy or game? You will need to train Lily until she comes to you every time you call her name, regardless of where you are and what you are doing. You can either train her to just come to you and sit, and quickly give her a treat and praise her every single time. Or you can train her to go to a specific spot, such as her dog bed. That will come in useful for when the postie or strangers come to the door.
Over time, and with many, many repetitions, you can train Lily to associate the ringing of the doorbell, or someone knocking on it, with “go to your bed and wait quietly”. You could even train Lily to watch your movements and follow your finger when you point to her bed.
However, if you don’t have the time or patience to commit to this every day, a quick solution would be to call Lily and put her into a closed room, where her dog bed is, and give her an enrichment toy, whenever someone is at the door. You need to make sure the toy contains high value treats, so she associates someone at the door with yummy food and a toy, and not with running to the door barking.
Dogs always go for the thing with a higher value – think chicken versus carrot. The chicken being the room and her bed, and the toy with the yummy food in it; the carrot being the activity at the door – boring!
Another “lazy” option would be to install a baby gate at the entrance so that even when the front door is open, Lily can’t rush past your feet and out into the street. If this is what you choose to do, do research the various types of gates that are available, and make sure the rails are properly spaced so Lily can’t squeeze through them, or worse, get stuck between them. There are clear or frosted perspex versions of these barriers, if you’d rather not have rails.
Until Lily has a consistent recall rate and can be relied upon to come to you, it’s best to avoid any situations where she has the opportunity to slip past you out into the street and risk getting injured or lost.