Most dog owners want a dog like Lassie. She helps in an emergency, doesn't scare the neighbors or wreck up the place when home alone. We are sometimes exasperated when medical care, the best in food and outerwear and continued companionship are just not enough to see this dream come true.
I promise. It's not too hard. You'll be surprised how little time it actually takes to get there. If you start on Mardi Gras by Easter, Lassie will come home.
Wake the dog
If your dog doesn't come to you when you call him at the dog park, stop taking him. Stop even talking to him. I mean it. Your words have lost or never had any meaning. Stop wasting them. Find something your dog wants badly enough to work for it. Take him for a walk or out to the yard. Hide treats for him to find. Do this three times this week. If he doesn't start caring where you are, find the activity that changes that. Give it to him.
Now that we have his attention
Now that you are a part of your dog's life, learn something new about dogs. Perhaps the research that says they are not wolves or that they actually follow the guy with the most friends--not the bossy one. Consider the fact that they read all their news with their noses and since we don't seem to care at all about what anything smells like, we probably don't know much. Spend this week watching what your dog does. Three times this week, you'll make a note of something your dog knows how to do that proves that he's smart. BTW, you are still giving him the activity he wants most three times this week. Great chance to show him the leash brings you, his ticket to fun, along rather than just controlling things.
Correct or Capture
Three times this week you will catch your dog lounging and make a big deal out of it. Most of the time, we ignore dogs when they are taking care of themselves in some non offensive way. Of course, this is why they spend so much time bothering people. Lounging doesn't pay. Change that. Also, this week, we are going teach your dog to target your hand to get the door open, get dinner or get any physical contact with you, provided he likes those things. If not, substitute that activity you've been giving away for free. From now on, he only gets to do it if he touches your hand when asked. If he can't, be sure to ask again in a few minutes until he succeeds at earning his most favorite time with you.
He is perfect
This week there will be no corrections for anything your dog does that you don't like. When he's participating in any activity you don't like, ask him to target your hand. Make a big deal about it when he is successful. Then give him what he likes most of all. Start asking and expecting him to tag your hand anytime he wants anything (door open, affection, dinner....)
There will be a shift in the force this week. No longer are you pointless. You are even powerful but most importantly, you demand deference and you've earned it.
Happy Easter. You now have a dog who pays attention to you, will touch your hand if you ask which manages a bunch of dog problems, who hangs out more and who you know a bit more about. It wasn't even hard.