[Dear Annie]

To celebrate 1994 as the Year of the Dog, Director and volunteer dog walker, Lucie Tomson, has asked her dog, Annie, to help out with canine concerns. Annie, a border collie, does her best to help her fellow dogs with their questions.

Annie's picture Dear Annie:
I just do not understand humans. Sometimes it is okay for me to show my happiness at seeing my owner by jumping up and sometimes it is not. It is okay for me to chew this brownish, hard shoe, but it is not okay to chew these shoes with the name "Gucci" on them. They taste the same to me. When my owner calls me to COME, sometimes he hits me when I get there. This sure makes me think twice before coming to him when he calls me. Am I missing something? I'm sure getting tired of him changing his mind all the time.

Dear Jack:
This is an age-old problem with humans: they are inconsistent. I bet you ten to one that when you jumped up on your owners and it was okay, they were probably wearing jeans or gardening clothes. These are clothes that can be dirtied and not easily ripped. They probably did not like you jumping up when they were wearing those things called suits or nylons. These clothes seem to be extremely important to them. This must be the same with the shoes...they all taste the same to me also, but there seems to be a difference between shoes. I guess some are for gardening and some are for suits.

A word of advice to you owners: you either allow your dog to jump up all the time (that means even on Grandma) or you DO NOT EVER allow it. Another option is to have a command that allows your dog to jump up on you when you want him to. My owner uses the word "HUP" and stretches her arms out. It takes the guess work out of it for a dog. Dogs do not know the difference between jeans and nylons. Dogs do not know the difference between a tired old shoe and your new pumps. Only give your pets doggy chew toys and never allow them to chew anything other than their toys, even if it is something that is old. Dogs do not know the difference between an old or a new thing.

What worries me most about your letter is that your owners scolded you for coming when you were called. You probably did not come fast enough for them, or you stopped on the way to pee on a tree or something. Again, it is a consistency problem. I bet 100 to 1 that there were times that they said, "Jack, Come", and you did not and they just dropped it. Better for you, you got away with it. Next time they said, "Jack, Come...JACK, COME", and knowing this time they meant business, you wandered back to them and got a smack. So what's the incentive to come when called since when you get there, you get a smack. You might as well take your time, run around the neighbourhood, and have a good time since you might be in trouble anyway.

Owners: consistency is essential to training your pet to obey any command. Here is how to teach the COME command: 1. Put a six-foot lead on your dog.
2. When the dog is distracted by something, give the command COME and follow by a "POP" on the lead (make sure that the lead is loose before you "POP").
3. Encourage the dog to come to you with your voice and body.
4. Reward with a treat when the dog is right in front of you.

When you feel your dog understands what COME means:
5. Put a 20-foot lead on your dog.
6. When the dog is distracted by something, give the command COME and follow by a "POP" on the lead. (Make sure the feet are not tangled in the lead.)
7. It is extremely important at this long distance that you encourage the dog to come to you with your voice and body once the dog is headed in your direction.
8. If the dog does not respond to the first COME- "POP", repeat it until the dog respond.
9. Reward with a treat when the dog is right in front of you.
10. Do this in different places and with difference distractions: other dogs, cats, squirrels.

Make sure your commands are clear and in a firm tone, not frantic, not a whisper, and not a scream.

Once your dog comes consistently, take the lead off and test his response. If the dog slips up even once, go back to Step 5. If the instructions are too confusing, an investment in a beginner obedience class would be worthwhile for both you and your dog.

This is the command that will one day save your dog's life and keep him from getting into harmful situations (i.e. with a raccoon or a skunk).

Dogs are not dumb; we will get away with anything we can. If we know we CANNOT get away with things, it is much easier for us to obey. Remember, do not hit a dog to make him obey; fear is not obedience. Treat your dog fairly and consistently. The dog will learn the rules as long as you make the rules stick.

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Page last updated March 20, 1997. All material Copyright 2004 Border Collie Rescue, Inc.
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