Often, pet parents have a problem with their dogs chasing joggers, cyclists or cars. They can prevent it by teaching their dogs to report back. This task will require the commitment of at least two people for a start and consistency.
Take your dog and the person who is helping you to a safe secure area with no other humans, dogs or distractions around. Have your dog on a harness and a long lead (at least two metres). You will need treats for this task.
1st stage – Have the helping person walk away out of sight and reappear at your signal some distance away (at least 30 metres). Just before that person appears, tell your dog ‘REPORT’, give a treat then immediately. While giving the treat, give your helping person the signal for them to walk into sight.
This person must not come close at this stage but just walk into view for about 20 seconds and then back out of sight. Repeat this 2–3 times and take a break for a few minutes, allowing dog to rest.
2nd stage – Repeat the task as before, only this time have the helping person appear slightly running into view for about 10 seconds at the same distance from the dog. When dog looks at the person, tell your dog ‘REPORT’, give a treat and calm verbal praise when he comes back to you. Repeat this two or three times and give dog a long rest.
When the dog is coping well and not pulling or lunging, then you can move to next stage or level. Never move to next levels in any training until the dog is coping with the level he is working at.
3rd stage – Repeat the task as for 2nd stage, only this time have helping person appear jogging quickly into view at same distance from the dog. When the dog looks at the person, tell your dog ‘REPORT’, give a treat and calm verbal praise when he/she comes back to you. Repeat this two or three times and give the dog a rest.
4th stage – Repeat 3rd stage until the dog is reporting every time he sees the jogger. Once the dog is reporting every time, you can then close the gap by repeating stages 1–3 at about 20 metres, until the dog is reporting every time at that distance. Give dog a rest.
Remember to give the dog plenty of rest between and never rush the task. This may take many days or weeks but if you are patient and consistent, you should see good results.
5th stage – Close the distance by repeating stages 1–3 at about 10 metres, until the dog is reporting every time at that distance. Treat and praise each time and give the dog a long rest.
6th stage – Close the gap by repeating stage 1–3 at about five meters, until the dog is reporting every time at that distance. Give dog a rest.
7th stage – Use different people the dog may not know very well as helpers and repeat all stages 1–6. When dog can report to you, no matter who is jogging past, then you and your dog have achieved the task well.
Don’t make this task too difficult, never tell your dog off if he does not seem to be succeeding. If he is not making progress, it may be that you are doing too much too quickly and the dog is losing confidence. Always set your dog up to succeed and only move on to other level when your dog is ready and not before.
You can use the same technique as stages 1–7 using cyclists and cars. Only cars should never get as close to the dog as a jogger or cyclist. Cyclist should slow down as they go past a dog, unfortunately some do not. Keep your dog safe. If your dog is ever in the situation of a fast cyclist or car coming too close, at least your dog will know how to report to you and you can safely get him out of danger.
(Nicole Mackie has over 14 years of experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifications, such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience veterinary nursing. She is a radio speaker and writer for magazines, works with behavioural problems in dogs and runs socialising groups for dogs with social problems).