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Ask the Trainer | Just say ‘yes’ to loading up

Carla Brown
Special to the Sun

Dear Carla,

We have a 2-year-old Golden Retriever named Bailey who has started to run away at the end of a walk. He goes about 100 yards away from the car and just stands there. If we try to go and get him, he starts to play chase and itand#8217;s impossible to catch him. We tried using treats and that worked for a while, but not anymore. Every walk now ends with us getting mad at him. What can we do?



Dear Fed-up,

It sounds like Bailey doesnand#8217;t want the fun to end! Getting in the car to go home has become a signal that his walk is over, so he has decided not to do it. He knows your regular trails so well, that I bet he wanders off about the same distance from the car each time. This has become a behavior pattern for him, so to fix the problem you will need to establish a new routine.

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On your next walk, call him back to you several times at random times. Give him a treat and release him to and#8220;go play.and#8221; Long before you reach the spot where he typically runs off, call him back one last time, give him a treat and put him on a leash. Walk the remaining distance back to the car with him on a leash, then calmly put him in the car. I also like to give a and#8220;load upand#8221; cue and reward the dog when they jump in. This will give him some reward for actually getting in the car. If you walk the same trails, vary the place where you place him on leash so he doesnand#8217;t establish a new issue around the place where you always leash him.

You will need to be very consistent about leashing him in advance and walking back to the car together. Over time, he will establish a new behavior pattern and he will start walking back to the car with you.

and#8212; Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog Training and Education Center in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at