Ask the Dogcharmer: Max

He’s got a mind of his own.

Max is very smart, gentle with children and other dogs, makes great eye contact, and loves everyone.

Hello Dogcharmer,

My guy is perfect in every way but one. I prefer walking him off-leash, but this is not always a perfect experience. He is a big dog, and I am on the other side of young.

I would like a more obedient dog. He always comes when I call, stays within 100 yards or less (usually), and keeps as much an eye on me as I do on him when we walk, but I am not happy with the slow way he responds when I call. If he is sniffing something out, he comes only when he is damn well done with the sniffing. Sometimes he does stray farther into the neighborhood, and behind houses, than I would like, and though he does eventually come back, I get tired of calling. He is very smart, gentle with children and other dogs, makes great eye contact, and loves everyone.

Coleen and Max


Dear Coleen,

Dogs, like people, are often creatures of habit. I love the fact that Max is off-leash so much and is reasonably responsive, but I fear that the more he goes out of sight and takes his time coming to you, the worse it will get! Three things really need to be worked on — “recall,” “leave it,” and “uh-uh.” The best way to train a dog is to have success build on success. So start in the house.

Fifteen times a day, when he doesn’t expect it, “Max come!” The first four times he comes, he gets a treat upon arrival, then he gets the treat intermittently. Intermittency is the strongest way to condition — his attitude will be, “Maybe there’s a treat, I better check it out!” I’m talking about dog treats, indoors. When he’s off-leash outside, Max gets people food treats upon coming when called. The ONLY place he gets people food is outdoors when he comes.

Most dogs have heard “No” so often that they become more and more unresponsive to the word. That’s my “Uh-uh!” “Leave it” is self-explanatory. Max, whatever you’re interested in, be it a pizza crust on the sidewalk, a roaming cat, another dog, a squirrel, whatever, ignore it when you hear “Leave it!” Period. Coleen, you’d be best served by having a pro teach Max the “uh-uh” and “leave it.”

Good luck,

The Dogcharmer


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