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Ask AKC: Enforcing Commands

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: I have a total of three Elkhounds, two being pups. This breed is the best I have ever been around during my life long love of animals. My male is very sweet and minds quite well. However, my female is very hard-headed and when loose will NOT come when called. I have used all the training techniques suggested in the book I have on elkhounds but with no luck. We have tried the long leash and rewarding with treats when she comes when called. But she knows that the second she is free, away she goes. We have 12 acres of mostly woods but I don't want her to get hurt plus I want her to learn to come on command. Help! --Educating an Elkhound
Before we begin, I have to agree with you 100 percent that the breed is the best (full disclosure -- I currently own three of them!). But I had to laugh when I read your question because I too have a female, Jinx, who is just like that. She has "me" trained very well that when I say "come" in the backyard she will not move. She waits for me to go in the house and get a treat before she comes.

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Jinx figured out the "come" command always meant we were going inside the house. So, to prolong playtime she would wait for the treat, which bought her extra time running around the fenced-in yard playing with her ball. Then I discovered her love of bananas. She will do anything for a banana, including run into the house at lighting speed. I gave up on the "come" command and retrained her to come with the word "banana" as the cue.

But to outsmart her I had to do a variety of things with her after she came to get the banana or she'd quickly figure out what that meant. When she now comes just before I give her the banana, I ask her to sit, I do nothing but give it to her, I let her run around the yard some more, I give her a belly rub, I bring her inside, or I sit down on the ground and play with her.

Now each time I say banana she comes running over to 1) get her piece of banana and 2) see what fun activity I have in store for her. She still ignores me when I say "come" but when I say banana she comes every time. Take the time to teach your dog a new word, use a new treat that she really loves, maybe steak or a hot dog, and before you know it your elkhound will be right at your side every time.

 

If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.