A lost dog. It is every owner’s worst nightmare. Thankfully, as an adult I have only had this happen once and got lucky. Ari slipped under my dad’s fence while I was out town and I discovered her missing when I went to pick up the pack. In sheer panic I searched the neighborhood on foot, asking person after person if they had seen her. Those that had told me it had been hours before. During my search I ran into a group of kids riding their bikes and asked if she had crossed their path. She hadn’t, but sure enough an hour or two later one of them called me while I was still out searching. She came back in a trailer built for a toddler towed behind one of the bikes. I swear that dog was beaming. Tongue hanging out, panting from her grand adventure, she had no idea she’d almost killed me.
I remember the panic, and the relief of having her in my arms again. This was at least 10 years ago, and unfortunately, even with our advanced technologies too many dogs never make it home. Two recent losses come to mind, a member of our training club, and a family member’s dog. One has been gone over a year and the other about a month. Neither may ever come home, despite their owners continued outreach on social media.
Which is why I think it’s important you do everything you can to make sure your dog is found before they are lost.
Today most dogs are chipped, and it’s easy to feel like that is a protection, a shield. If your dog gets out, they will get scanned and come home. The problem is not every dog makes it to a scanner. It’s uncommon, but chips can stop working. Or you moved and didn’t update your information.
Hands down, the most important thing you can do to protect your dog is old fashioned. Get them a proper fitting collar and tags.
Right or wrong tags send out a signal when a dog is wandering the streets. I am loved. I have somewhere I am supposed to be. Someone out there is looking for me. An untagged dog, even a pampered one, can look like it has been on the street for months once it becomes ragged and dirty. If someone manages to ‘rescue’ them they tell themselves that this nice, adorable, dog wasn’t cared for. It’s easy to give it a home if no one ‘wanted’ it.
There are three things I have learned since getting Luna that I wish someone would have taught me in our early days. Place, touch, and wait. We've picked up each of them at different times and from several people. Now I consider them essential for a well-trained dog. I introduce them in puppy class and offer them as solutions to friends and coworkers. Because they are a foundation for Trick Dog I have a planned post for each of them, but wanted to start with wait.
Wait and stay are similar commands, yet vastly different. With stay you are asking your dog to remain in the exact place and position you have left them. Sit/stay, means to sit where you are until I come back. That doesn't mean down, and it doesn't mean moving forward to see how much ground you can steal before I turn around. This isn't baseball. Stay is serious business because it could save your dog’s life.
Stay also doesn't mean I am going to call you to me.
If you are an experienced dog owner, you may have just reread that sentence. Maybe you stared at it in disbelief. It comes off a little crazy, right? What do you mean, you can't call your dog to you from a stay? Remember, stay isn't voluntary or conditional. Stay means you remain exactly where you are until I come back. Which means if you are calling your dog to you you are breaking down the strength of the command.
Now, hopefully, you've accepted that the idea of not calling your dog from a stay isn’t crazy. Or at least are open minded enough to keep reading. Because this is where wait comes in.
Lisa (and Luna)