My problem with my dog is really frustrating me, she is a 10 month old Cavoodle and when I call her most of the time she comes to me but will run around me staying far enough away so I can’t reach her, she knows I can’t catch her. At the park today I had to get someone else to hold her for me (and I was late for work). How can I get her to come close enough to me so I can catch her and put her on lead? It’s starting to get embarrassing.
Hi Grace, don’t be too embarrassed, most other dog owners have been there with their own dog at some stage and will happily help you. You’re right though, you really do need to address this before your puppy hurts herself or bothers other people.
Dogs who display this sort of behaviour typically do it because staying at the park is preferable to being put on lead and taken home. You need to change your puppy’s mind about what it means to come to you.
Take some treats to the park, but they have to be high value treats. Find a bunch of foods that your puppy loves, these can include frankfurts, raw beef, fresh meaty treats, small amounts of cheese. These treats will make you so much more attractive and give your puppy a good reason to come to you. Remember, dogs are always thinking, ‘what’s in it for me?’ When you feed her make sure you hold your hand very close to your body so you are not having to lunge to ‘catch’ her.
Your puppy must be close to you for this and you must approach her collar from below her chin. Dogs who are good at running off quickly tend to have owners who have always grabbed them from above. Make your collar grab very low-key, you are not trying to trick your puppy, perhaps give her a scratch under the chin a few times before even doing a collar grab. Go slow with this one. I’m sure dogs cam smell desperation.
Collar grabs are another thing you can do to help. At home or at the park when your puppy comes to you take her collar with your fingers and hold her with you for a second, then release her again to go back and play. Do this over and over and over again.
Go back and play will probably be the best thing you can do for your puppy. When you get her to come right in to you, simply let her go and play again. Do this as many times as you like on a walk. It may also be a good idea to not put her on lead at the same place all the time, mix things up a little.
Dogs learn through association, she has learned that coming to you means going home, but not coming to you means she gets to run around for a bit longer and play with you. Yes, this would be a game of chase for her, one that is probably very reinforcing. Do not ever chase your puppy when you need her to ‘come’, instead walk away and try calling her again in a minute or two.
Good luck Grace, and while you are practicing this take care to walk off lead in safe places.