We let our dog Buster off the leash the other day, for the first time. He had such a great time running around with the other dogs in the park, but he wouldn’t listen to me when I called him. It took ages for him to come back, and I was scared I was going to lose him. Please help. Thank you, Claire
I can imagine how scary that must have been! Teaching a dog to come when called (recall) can, literally, save his life. I recommend you keep Buster leashed until you’re sure his recall is where it should be. That doesn’t mean his fun in the park has to stop, try using a very long leash so he has some freedom.
There are different elements to this training, but let me get you started with the basics.
You need a quiet place with no distractions, so Buster can focus only on you. When he’s headed over to you wait until he’s quite close, maybe a couple of feet, call his name and say “come.” When he does, make a big fuss to show him how exciting it is when he comes to you, and do this every single time. If he’s food motivated, small pieces of his favourite treat are a big help!!
Practice this periodically throughout the day, every day, until you’re satisfied he’s listening then you can start calling him when he’s further and further away. Gradually introduce distractions into this training in the house, and in a fenced in backyard.
Keep sessions to around 5 or 10 minutes so he doesn’t get bored.