It can be very frightening when a situation arises during which you cannot catch your dog or dogs. Whether is because the joy of simply being a dog has taken over or if a dog decides to be stubborn on any given day, we all encounter the occasional time when our rabbit dogs do not want to come when called. Although training is imperative in order to avoid situations such as this, sometimes even the best training may fail you when you are trying to call your dog back.
There are many places a rabbit dog may flee from an owner. It could be that they do not want to be caught after a day in the field or that they've escaped their kennel at home. Worse yet, the dog may startle and slip his or her collar on the way into the vet while in an unfamiliar part of town or be faced with a surprise predator in the hunt field. Whatever the case may be, you need to capture your dog and do so quickly. The problem with this is that some dogs become harder to catch when startled. Also, when given chase, dogs tend to think a game has begun and will continue to run and evade owners. It is because of scenarios such as these that an emergency command must be instituted in order to immediately get your dog's attention, bringing them back to you right that instant.
We all teach our dogs to come to us via commands, whistles, or whatever your personal preference may be. Though it may seem as if these commands are adequate, you have to consider all the reasons you ask your dog to come. Some of those reasons are bound to be unpleasant such as baths or going to the vet. Over time, when a dog is called for something unpleasant, the power of the command diminishes as your dog associates being called with something he or she possibly dislikes. Case in point, we have a dog that hates baths. If he thinks he's getting a bath, he will flee and hide if given the chance. No amount of "come" or "here" is going to do the job because he has come to associate those terms with something he dislikes. He also has psychic powers, apparently, because if he so much as thinks he's getting a bath or hears water running, he's not coming.
To overcome a dog that contemplates coming when called and turn him into a dog that comes immediately in an emergency, a separate command to come must be used. For starters, pick a word that you don't use in conversation often so the dog is not accustomed to hearing it. The word can be whatever you want in any language that you want as long as you don't say it daily. Next, arm yourself with treats, but not just any treats. For this training session, you want the good stuff, preferably something your dog will really like but doesn't get often or at any other time than during this training session. Next, introduce your new command to your dog. You can simply say it and give a treat along with lots of praise to build the association, then start saying it from further and further away while your rabbit dog is immersed in situations where he or she might normally avoid you. Each time you call and the dog returns, give treats and praise.
Most importantly when training for this emergency command to come is contact. You don't want your dog to come to within a few feet, snatch a treat, and run off again. What you do want is for your dog to come so that you can fully lay hands on him or her. Waiting for the dog to sit at your feet will help encourage this, but you may also want to wait until you are able to grab a collar or physically capture the dog. Since a dog may slip a collar, it is really important to be able to get your hands or a replacement collar on the dog in order to obtain a successful return.
Practice this until your dog has a clear understanding but be sure not to overuse it. You want the command to have and retain power to get your rabbit dog immediately to your side in a hurry when necessary. In order to maintain the effectiveness of your emergency command, keep those special treats coming and use plenty of praise as well or in the event you are without treats. Though it can be hard to resist, don't start using the command for negative things your dog does not like. Keep it light and happy and once you've achieved success, let your dog go back to being a dog.
Training such as this may be time consuming but can prove invaluable when a potential threat to your rabbit dogs is present. Since dogs can get caught up in play, they may not always realize when a threat comes knocking. Therefore it is your job to look out for them and call them back quickly in an emergency with a command you have instituted for just such an occasion.
Do you have an emergency command in place? Are there any other training tips you would like to suggest? Let us know in the comments.