Your dog has nailed their ‘come when called’ and other important commands when they are at home or in a secluded area. So, you start to take your dog to the dog park. That’s when you realise that your dog is dancing to their own tune. Many have asked us, ‘how do I get my dog to listen at the dog park?’, in this article, we will give you 7 effective ways.
They are so excited and they just don’t want to come home no matter how much you call them. Well, you aren’t alone. This is a very common problem for dogs that love to be around other dogs. The moment you take them to a dog park, they just don’t want to come home!
How Do I Get My Dog To Listen At The Dog Park?
Well, for you to teach your dog to ‘come no matter what’ takes a lot of practice and patience and it takes years to perfect it. But if you start now, you can eventually get your dog to listen to you no matter how interesting their surroundings are.
1. Find Their Favourite Currency
The biggest mistake that we make in the dog park is, we either don’t use a strong enough currency to bring them back or we wean them off of treats too quickly.
If dogs feel they aren’t being paid, they are less likely to listen. So, before you start anything, you need to find their currency. What do they like?
Very few dogs are play motivated when they have food in front of them. So first find out what their favourite toy is. Layout their toys and see which one they pick first. Our dog has a favourite pink ball that has a smooth texture. If that ball is there, she doesn’t want to play with anything else.
Once you know what their favourite toy is, find out what their favourite treat is. Usually, most dogs will do anything for any boiled meat but some have their favourites.
If you have a highly driven dog, they will do anything for low-value dog treats and even kibble.
Some dogs are motivated by both food and play; these dogs are very intelligent and you can get them to do whatever you want! Usually training with them is far easier but you also have to find ways to keep them occupied throughout the day.
2. Start Training At Home
Once you know what their favourite currency is, you should start calling them at any time throughout the day in the house. Every time they come, give them their high-value treat, followed by a lot of praise.
Once they get a hang of coming every time you call their name, you can start to phase out on the currency, or, you can sometimes give them a low-value treat, and sometimes a high value treat.
Make sure that you use the command ‘come’ when you know they will come. This adds a lot of strength to the word and will not devalue the command.
3. Practice ‘Come’ In A Fenced Area
If you have a fenced lawn tennis area or badminton court, practice when no one is around. First, ask them to come on a long lead, and once they get a hand, practice without the lead.
It may take a few tries and you may have to call them in close proximity a few times before you can increase the distance.
Always use high-value currency when you first start the training outside because it’s a pretty big deal for them to listen outside.
You can slowly alternate between higher value, lower value and no currency only after they respond every single time.
Secondly, just like how you did indoors, you should also try to call them a few times while they are exploring the area. Only call them when you are sure they will come.
4. Workout Before Play
We have a common misconception that by taking them to the dog park, they burn all their excess energy. But, if you want them to listen, it would be best to work them out before you take them to the dog park.
An exercised dog is far more likely to listen and come back than a dog that is still bursting with energy.
5. Practising ‘Come’ Around 1 Or 2 Dogs
Fewer dogs will be less overwhelming for your dog and they are far more likely to listen. Keep them on a leash at first and only let them interact after they have followed your command.
Since they are on their leash it will be easier to re-direct them back to you. If they start to pull their leash, take them further away from the dogs and start over.
6. ‘Settling Down’ Before Going Close To The Park
When you feel they are ready for the dog park, or the area with a lot of dogs, start by getting them to listen to you before you go in the park or close to the dogs.
A simple ‘sit’ or ‘look at me’ command should be good. If they listen and get into a sit, they get to go closer to the dog park (and they get a currency of course). Conversely, if they don’t listen or pull on the leash, take them in the opposite direction. Try to find a place where they would listen and start from there.
This may be difficult for your dogs, and you may have to come home for many days without really entering the dog park.
7. Going To The Dog Park
By now, your dog has practised ‘come’ in different places and around a few other dogs. They have also exercised a bit so they are far more likely to listen to you when it’s time to go home.
We would suggest keeping them on a long lead at first. Ask them to come a few times while they are in the park and always reward heavily. This will teach them that sometimes you have to come but it doesn’t always mean that you have to go home.
By treating them each time, they will know that great things will happen to them when they listen to you.
Sometimes, you can also make it a fun game by running in the opposite direction and asking them to follow you.
Training them to come no matter how interesting their surroundings are, is not easy. But it is possible. If you are patient and use the right kind of motivation, you can get your dog to come to you anytime and anywhere.
Does your dog stop listening to you when you are at the dog park? Or with other dogs? What have you done so far to improve your ‘come’? Let us know in the comments section below.