Are you punishing your dog when you call him back and he comes?

What’s one of the biggest reasons dogs don’t come when called?

Believe it or not, it’s because we often accidentally punish them for coming!

You call the dog to come inside from the garden (super interesting and full of great smells, pretty much doggie Disneyland). He comes inside (where it’s super boring and the smells are staler than the Top of the Pops hits of 1990) and you shut the door. You may even go out and leave him alone!

So … where’s the reward?

Surely he didn’t just drop everything he was doing and leave doggie Disneyland for you for this? Bummer!

He just got accidentally punished.

The same thing can happen if we call our dog and crate him, or call our dog and then trim his nails, or call him and then put his leash on him after he’s had a bunch of freedom. Anything our dog doesn’t like has the potential to be punishing if we do it when he’s expecting a reward.

But don’t worry – you can keep a great recall by making sure you reward him WAY more often than these negative things happen to him. Whenever he comes back to you – give him a treat. Treats don’t always have to be food, pop in a comment in you’d like some ideas of other treats you could be giving.

Happy training!

ALFIE AND HIS HOOMAN’S 5 STEP PLAN OUT OF LOCKDOWN FOR PUPPIES

I saw my neighbour walking his daughter to school yesterday, and it gave my heart a lift. Even though we don’t have exact dates, it feels like we’re starting to see a return to normality.

Soon all our kids will be back at school, and we’ll be able to get back to work, rather than being stuck in the house.

Whilst good news for us, it’s going to be a difficult time for our puppies. They’re going to be home alone!

All their life has been spent in your loving company. You’ve been there all day every day for them. Now, though, they’re going to be left alone for long periods.

And they won’t be happy. There’s going to be fretting, chewing, barking, wailing, and gnashing of teeth (literally!).

Here’s a simple five step plan to help you get them ready for being home alone.

Improve their confidence – teach them that it’s ok to be at home by themselves. Leave them in their usual space, go somewhere they can’t hear you (outside is best) and then return once they’re quiet.  Start small. A few minutes at a time. Build it slowly until you can be away for 20 minutes. Once they’re confident you will come back, extend the time further, maybe even go and do your shopping.  

Socialise them – your puppy’s first year’s experiences have a huge impact on their temperament and character.  What seems normal to us, can look terrifying to your puppy.  Get them used to people and other dogs as well as experience things like traffic and loud, sudden noises.  A walk with a dog walker will get the pup used to new people and other dogs whilst having a good run about.

Develop a routine – like babies, puppies need routine. Develop a routine for meals, walks, play, and sleep.  Make sure it’s flexible, especially for busy households, otherwise your puppy may become anxious any time it’s changed. And your puppy needs to rest as well as play. So, after playing or walking, let your dog lie and rest without interruption. This teaches them how to ‘chill’ by themselves.

Take them out in the car – when we’re able to travel again, you’ll want to take them further afield. Take them for short journeys first so they get used to the motion. Again, build up the distance slowly. And remember to reward good behaviour. It may also be good to book them in with your intended dog walker to experience a journey in their van.

Organise doggie day care – Get your puppy used to the people who will be helping you with them. Book your puppy in to doggy daycare or for an adventure with your dog walker every now and then. The earlier you do this, the more comfortable your puppy will become, and it’ll be a much easier transition for them when you’re not around 24/7. 

If you need any advice on your puppy, feel free to get in touch and I will give you tips or put you in touch with someone you can speak to.

SO WHAT IS IT ABOUT LIVER CAKE?

There is one thing that dogs love – liver cake!  I will admit, I had never heard of it until I had starting working with dogs but honestly if you want your dog to do something, make some liver cake and they’ll do anything to get some!

Bailey waiting patiently for liver cake!

It is really easy to make and you can keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months.  I make a batch up, cut it up into small pieces (about 1cm square), pop it into small bags and then freeze it.  Each day I’m walking dogs, I take out a bag the night before and then use them for recall, etc.  Please note that I usually break each treat into several pieces so the dog only gets a small piece at a time. The smaller the treat, the more likely they are to do what I need them to!

One batch makes enough treats for around a month!  After a few of my clients have nagged me for the recipe – here goes!

EASY PEASY LIVER CAKE RECIPE

450 g liver – chicken or lamb

450g self raising flour (or gluten free flour if you have a dog with allergies)

3 large eggs

1 tsp of lazy garlic (whoa, I hear you, garlic may be bad for your dog – however it hasn’t been proved and if you’re worried, just leave it out!)

About 100 ml of water

1.  Liquidise the liver and garlic in a liquidiser for a few minutes into a smooth consistency.

2.  Add the flour, eggs and water to a cake batter consistency. Liquidise for a few seconds until well mixed.

3.  Pour into a well greased baking tray (32 cm x 24 cm).

4.  Bake at 180 degrees for around 40 minutes.  Test by pressing down on the cake.  It should bounce back up when pressed lightly.