By Eric Gillaspy CPDT-KA
Who would have thought that playing hide and seek with your dog could be a really fun and easy way to teach him to come to you. This is a great technique for families, because you can include almost everyone. The golden rule of teaching your dog to come to you is to make sure that it is always rewarding for your dog to get to you. You can reward your dog with treats, toys, or affection. Whatever motivates him.
Make sure to start in an area that is safe — indoors is usually best. Have everyone stand in a circle in an open area. Take turns asking your dog to come to you. Try to make sure that the dog associates the word with the behavior of getting to you. When your dog looks at you, make sure to tell him “good” to encourage him to get to you. Sometimes, taking a few steps backward, away from your dog can help. Give a reward or a fun play session when your dog gets to you.
When your dog is coming to everyone reliably, have everyone take a step back. Extend the distance the dog has to run gradually. Once your dog is good at 10 feet away, move a couple more feet away. Keep repeating this exercise until he is rushing to the person calling him every time he is called.
Now for the fun part. Kids love to hide, so have the kids hide from the dog. Take turns having the kids call the dog to them. Encourage good manners from the dog when he gets to them by only rewarding him when he isn’t jumping or acting out of control. You can even ask for a sit when he gets to you.
Gradually make it more difficult for your dog to find you. Have the kids hide in different places to keep it fun for him. The reward for your dog getting to you should always be great, whether it is food, toys, or attention and affection. The harder your dog tries to get to you, the better. This is a great way to include the whole family in training a great family companion.