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Evading Capture

Does your pup race back to your recall and then dance around just out of reach refusing to be captured?

Annoying isn’t it!

The thing is we have taught them to do this, by mistake of course, but you will already know how easily puppies learn, both the things you want them to know.. and the things you really don’t!

They watch, they notice, they remember, the things that are fun for them (and do more of those) and the things that are no fun (they like to avoid those!).

So they will have noticed the small differences in your body language when your intention is to capture them and put them back on the lead, because they would prefer to be free to run and play. When they see these little signs in you they dart out of your reach (it makes you realise how incredibly fast their responses are) which is stage 1 of this process.

Stage two of this process is the ensuing dance between you. They dart back, you reach forward, they run a little further out of reach, you follow and try again to grab them. For you what is happening is that you are growing frustrated, thinking about the time and that you need to leave. For them what is happening is they have accidentally discovered how to get their human to play a splendid game of chase!

Think about it from their perspective, they suddenly have your full attention, you are totally focussed on them, you move when they move, you respond beautifully to their attempts at evasion, its super fun for them, especially because they will almost always win! It’s not malicious, manipulative or ‘naughty’, they are just playing a fun game.

So lets take the game away, and teach them something instead. A tiny but vital piece of training for every puppy is learning to be captured, to accept having their collar or harness held while they are put back on the lead. That is the end goal, so how to we get there?

Start at home, where there are no distractions and no memories of the fun chasing game. Offer a treat you know they love, and when they sniff it bring it slowly towards you so they follow. Hold tight to the treat, don’t give it to them yet. Keep the treat close to you and slowly reach out and very gently hold their collar (underneath their chin is best - no pup likes a hand reach over their head). Feed the treat while you are holding their collar, then release them. The aim of this training game is to teach them they can have the treat if they allow you to reach out and take hold of their collar.

Practice for a few days, and once you can easily do this in your home and garden start practising on a walk. It’s super important that you practice when you don’t want to put them on the lead, we don’t want to give them any reason to avoid you, this should be a fun came that just gets them treats then release.

Finally, when you have instilled this new learning and replaced the chasing game with this fun training game, you can use it to put them on the lead at the end of a walk. But keep a sprinkling of practices going during your walk too, so they cannot predict whether its a practice, or back on the lead time.

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