How does it sound to have confidence that, should you stop, you know that your dogs will come back to you? All on their own. Magic? Not so! This is actually very achievable! In this article, I'll take you through the steps to initially train and subsequently maintain this behavior of automatically checking in with you. There is even a fun video at the end!
How to Start
So how does one start? Ideally, I begin teaching this behavior when dogs are very young, about 10 - 12 weeks. Taking advantage of puppies' natural inclination to stay by our side is the key. Take your puppy somewhere new but not somewhere they will be scared. Let them wander and explore (safely! And preferably somewhere without other dogs or people) while you sneakily find a place to be out of sight. Behind a tree works great or around a bend or behind a hill. What will happen 9 times out of 10 is that your puppy will look up, realize you are nowhere to be seen, and rush back up the trail to find you. The first time or two, make it easy for the pup to find you. Then have a PARTY! Delicious, high value food reward is best. Plus lots of praise. Then carry on down the trail with your pup.
Only do this once or twice in your first outing, but continue the practice every time you are on the trail. Build and encourage the behavior of checking in with you. Better keep an eye on mom! Never know when she might up and