Your dog always chases you! How do you and your dog get there? Start early, as soon as you get your dog regardless of its age. It will be easier with puppies because they are so enthusiastic and hungry but these steps below will help you get your older dog or even rescue dog on board to chase you. All the things listed below will also help to build a trusting relationship.
#1 Engage Your Dog’s Attention
The dog must want something from you in order for it to engage. Maybe it wants your attention but definitely it wants food. (See #2 about food) Learning its name is an easy ways to engage your dog early on.
(a) Say its name then feed a piece of kibble, over and over and over and over. You have its attention now. Don’t expect anything else right now while you build rapport.
(b) Classically condition your dog to a marker word. I use “yes”. This is how Pavlov accidentally trained dogs to drool but he used a bell while we will use a word. Say “yes”, feed one piece of kibble or training food to your dog. Do it over and over. You are establishing your communication system and getting the dogs attention, two birds – one stone. When you have done this more than 100 times over the course of a few days, your dog will love the sound of “yes”. It will give him warm fuzzy feelings. (Now you can mark any behavior you like. The dog lays down at your feet, you say ”yes” then give a reward. The dog jumps up on you – bad, then gets down -good, you say “yes” and reward the good behavior.)
(c) Advanced – Put kibble in a bowl, hold it at the center of your chest. If you don’t have the dog’s attention, get it by calling name or making a sound. Then back up. If the dog follows you say, “yes” jump back and give it a few pieces of kibble five or six times (vary this number every time). Start again and do it until the bowl is empty
#2 Don’t Overfeed Your Dog
By now you may see that you probably don’t need to put a bowl of food on the ground to feed your dog while you are trying to build the relationship and begin training using food, unless you have a puppy. They eat A LOT. Don’t feed your dog before you have an engagement session, feed during engagement. An overfed dog doesn’t care what you want and doesn’t have the energy to work/play with you. He’s digesting.
(a) Typically, the dog food bag recommendation is too much food for your dog. They don’t want to be liable if you underfeed and endanger your dog’s health and they want you to buy more food. You be the judge of your dog’s eating needs.
(b) If your dog isn’t interested in eating food the minute you bring it out, he is either sick (see your vet) or not hungry. Not hungry can mean overfed. Overfed means NOT motivated. You need motivation to work with a dog. Conversely, some dogs act hungry all the time, be an adult and control that intake. Don’t let the dog decide. Check out the chart at your veterinarian’s office. It shows a top view of a healthy weight dog with a cut at its waist and a sucked up belly. Does your dog look like that?
#3 Play Chase Games
Dogs, like people, learn best while playing and through repetition. If the dog does a behavior, like chasing you across the yard five times, he might not do it all the time. But if he does it 100, 200, 300, 500 times, it becomes a reflex, a habit, a VERY GOOD HABIT. Here is a simple chase game for you to build that habit. Start with a hungry dog and end leaving him wanting more. End the game at its height while your dog is amped. Don’t keep going until he is tired and it’s not fun anymore.
(a) Put a large handful of yummy training food rewards into your pocket or training pouch. (I use Happy Howie’s meat rolls that I cut into little cubes. They hold their shape and don’t fall apart when I roll them. The size depends on the dog’s size but you want the dog to feel rewarded so don’t be stingy)
- Roll a reward just behind your dog so he sees it and goes after it.
- Just as he picks it up say “come” (or whatever word you will use to recall your dog).
- When dog looks to you and shows commitment to come to you say “yes” (mark the desired behavior as he does it) and Jump back then begin backing up small steps.
- As the dog arrives at you keep backing up faster to absorb his energy as you feed one treat at a time, 3 to 5 rewards (vary the number each time) from the same hand. (I keep a reservoir hand with 8 – 9 rewards and feed with the other hand, reach to reservoir to reload, feed, reach.)
- Save at least one of these rewards to roll behind him to start the next round. Do it all again. And again…
- Never say “come” when you aren’t sure if your dog will actually come. Get the repetition in before you test with distractions,. Make sure you have a long leash on the dog so you can give it a little tug and control the dog coming to you when you introduce distractions while training.
(b) You are outside with your dog and she is across the way. This will just have to happen spontaneously, so keep rewards in your pocket. If you taught your dog its name as I described in #1, then your dog is gonna come running for her reward.
- Call you dog’s name.
- When she looks up and heads to you, say “yes” and jump up suddenly then run away while you encourage her.
- As she approaches, feed rewards.
- Repeat as often as you find your dog off in the distance.
Your dog may love you like no other but distractions are compelling. You want your dog to have a habit of coming to you when called and chasing you around. If you find yourself chasing your dog around the yard, think about what is causing her to run away. It is a game to your dog and bad habit that you must break. I have some suggestions.
- Never punish your dog for coming to you, always reward with a marker word, food or affection.
- Start taking her outside on a leash long enough to break the habit.
- Make sure she is not overfed.
- Start a practice of giving your dog a little tasty treat when she comes in from outdoors. My dogs come flying because they get a super fishy, tiny treat when they come in.
Feel free to contact me for more ideas specific to your dog.
Classical Conditioning (think Pavlov) say “yes” give dog a piece of food. No expectation that the dog do any behavior. Just “yes” feed, “yes” feed about 100 times to classically condition “yes” as a marker word that tells the dog you like what he’s doing.