When new clients call me to train their best friend, the COME request is usually a top priority on their training list. As dog owners, one of our biggest desires is that our dog will come when called every time. Our best friends live in a world of distractions that are constantly competing with us for our dogs attention. Many dogs feel frustrated that they cannot chase the squirrels, or the kitties, or the other dogs that they see on their daily walks. These ‘competing motivations’ are constantly vying for our dogs attention and when we call our dogs back to us it is easy for our canines to ignore our pleading for them to drop the fun and return to our side. In this post I would like to explore techniques that we can use to help our canine friends learn this most vital request.
Many dog owners will use the come request only when it is needed. Then when their dog returns to them it is back on the leash, or back in the house, or back in the crate. It is vital that the come request be used often and that most of the time your dog is allowed to return to that exciting scent or whatever fun it was that they were having before being called.
In other words call your dog to you frequently and then immediately encourage them to return to the activity they were doing before being called. You should only put your dog back on their leash and end their fun in one out of ten recalls.
ALWAYS give your dog plenty of praise and a treat reward for coming when called. This is the one command that I will always give a treat for. Plenty of praise should also be showered on your best friend for returning to your side. This will let them know that there is a reward in it for them when they heed your call.
Dogs feel plenty of frustration in their daily lives… they want to chase that rabbit scent or follow that deer trail. Dogs often will learn to be outwardly focused on the world around them and will hone in on that rather than on us. Luckily, it is easy to create a strong desire in your dog to also want to run towards you. Follow this simple exercise to help build a strong foundation for a successful COME request.
1. Go to a safe place like a fenced in park or field and attach your best friend to a long line (a 30-35 foot long leash).
2. Have a friend or other household member hold your dog close to them.
3. Show your dog that you have a handful of treats by placing them on your furry friends nose.
4. Immediately run away a short distance and turn, and excitedly but loudly and clearly say your dogs name, and the COME request. “Daisy, COME!”
5. Have your friend drop the leash as your dog shows excitement and starts to pull towards you. Make sure that your helper does not get their feet inadvertently tangled in the leash, which can cause an accidental correction.
6. Your dog will run to you and as soon as they get to you shower them with treats and praise. Immediately pick up the leash so they can’t run off again. Repeat this 5 to 7 times in a row once or twice a day.
7. Build up from a short distance to bigger distances over several weeks. It is important not to get too far away too quickly.
Use this tip and you will successfully create a desire in your dog to want to be with you and at your side as much as they want to smell the roses!