Want a fun training activity that you can practice inside and outside? Teach "Go Find Someone". The long-term goal is to ask your dog to find a family member by name and then your dog runs off and finds that person! If you are really savvy, you can combine it with a "Hold" and have your dog be the family messenger. Write a quick note to your son, 'Dinner in 5 minutes', give it to your dog and then say, "Go find Josh". Your dog will bring the note to Josh! How cool!
You need to understand the basics of teaching Come When Called. Not sure how to teach that? Don't worry, here are some steps to improve your dog's ability in that area. Your dog does not need to be perfect in this area before you start this, but you do need to pay attention to some simple rules.
- Say the cue one time
- Help your dog do the behavior (gently)
- Don't ever punish your dog when he comes to you
- Don't use "come" to do something that your dog doesn't like such as cutting nails or giving a bath
- Don't always end the fun when you call your dog, such as leaving the dog park or bringing him in from outside
Now that you know the basics, you start working on the "Find" behavior. Besides being enjoyable for dogs to do activities, this is also another way to provide mental stimulation for your dog. As always, I want you to focus on keeping your dog engaged and interested for short training sessions. Do not get frustrated if it seems like it takes a while for your dog to learn this behavior. With all behaviors, the speed of learning depends on how much time you spend, good you are as a trainer, how much training you have done with your dog in the past, and how many distractions there are. Just practice a few minutes a day and you will do great.
- You should start with two people, in this case, Josh and Susan
- Stand 5 feet away from each other
- Make sure your dog is wearing a 6 foot leash
- Have Josh hold the leash
- Ask your dog, "Find Josh"
- Both of the people should pause for a moment - no noises or body movements
- Have Josh call your dog
- If your dog doesn't immediately go to Josh, Josh should gently pull the leash and pull your dog to him and reward him - DO NOT repeat either cue ("Find Josh", or "Come")
- Josh should then say, "Find Susan"
- Susan should repeat the exercise starting at step #4
- After your dog is easily going between this distance, drop the leash and stand farther apart
- Make sure each person only says the cue ONE time and then helps your dog come to the person
- Once you are out of sight doing the exercise, after calling the dog, each person can tap the ground or come into view and run away so your dog chases
- The entire goal is for your dog to understand that once he hears a specific name, it benefits him to go find that perso
- Only say the cue one time and then help such as tapping your leg, or gently pulling the leash
- Use really great rewards including your dog's favorite toy (do a quick game of tug as a reward), treats and excitement
- Don't reward your dog unless you give him a cue to go find someone. If he just "cruises around" finding all the people in the house that is ok, but you want him to be motivated to do the behavior on cue.
- Use a long leash for a helper once you move out of sight, if needed
- Have fun. Don't expect this to happen in one session. Think of it as a game for your dog that will help alleviate boredom
Service Dog Strategies
Did you know this is one way to teach a service dog to help a person that can't hear the doorbell? To teach a dog to alert a person that the doorbell rang all you would have to do is do training sessions where someone rings the doorbell, and then someone calls their dog. If the dog has a tendency to charge the door, it is a good idea to desensitize the dog to the doorbell first so then he can actually make a decision, and not instinctively rush the doorbell.
Have fun, and happy training!