Spring and early summer are wonderful times to be outside with your dog, having fun in the sun. But if you live in the desert, you know it’s also the time when many stinging and biting creatures become more active. Rattlesnake season kicks off as soon as the temperatures rise, and with it comes the danger of your curious pup wanting to play with a snake or scorpion.
One way to help avert disaster is to have a command that will redirect your dog’s attention to you no matter what’s going on—at playtime, in the middle of a crowd, or at home if he looks like he’s exhibiting behavior you want to discourage. The command I recommend is called the “Out” command, and it’s fairly easy to teach.
The Out command basically trains your dog to leave wherever he is and come directly to you and wait for direction. It’s useful for getting your dog away from dangerous outdoor pests, but it also comes in handy to get your dog to distance himself from another dog if you need him to, to move away from small children, to discourage begging behavior, and even to redirect your dog from problem behaviors like digging or excessive chewing.
Here are four basic steps that will help you teach your dog to learn to respond to the Out command.
Start by tossing a treat in the opposite direction of the dog while saying “Out.” This exercise will help him learn to recognize the word and teach him to pay attention when he hears the command.
Next, wait for a moment when your dog appears to be mildly interested in something around him. Before he gets too engaged, try calling “Out.” If your dog turns back to you upon hearing the command, praise him and/ or give him a reward.
When your dog is ready to move up a level, try engaging him with a toy that you know will hold his attention and leave him to get interested for a moment. Then give the Out command, and if the dog obeys and turns his attention to you, give praise or a reward. You’ll know your making real progress when you can get him to abandon this more tempting distraction and focus on you.
Once your dog has mastered Steps 1 through 3, it’s time to try the Out command while he’s fully engaged in play, either with another dog or a human. While your dog is at the height of his energy level, call the command and see if he can pull away and turn his attention back to you. This is the true test of your dog’s understanding the Out command.
As with any training, learning the Out command will take some time. But if you and your dog keep at it, you’ll be armed with a useful and important safety command. You can check out the informative YouTube video teaching this activity at youtube.com/watch?v=r-a0icaXT2c…»
Manny Guerra, ABCDT, is the owner of K9 Parent Training. (760) 813-5250 k9parenttraining.com