There are two approaches which you can use to teach your dog to ¨come¨ when called. You can also combine them.
The first one is Conditioning and Training and the second one is Gravity.
Let’s talk about the first one.
Conditioning and training means to condition your dog to associate the word ¨come¨ with the action ¨coming to you¨.
It´s really that simple.
This might seem obvious to you. Nonetheless I keep seeing more often than not dog owners calling their dogs while they are going towards them.
This usually happens when your dog is getting into trouble. You call his or her name, your pup doesn´t listen and you end up going there. It doesn’t take long for your dog to learn that the word ¨come¨ means that you go to him or her.
I can’t repeat this enough: ¨YOUR DOG DOESN´T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH¨. Now, I don’t wanna bust your bubble. You are more than welcome to talk to your dog. I do it all the time. Just don’t expect him or her to understand what you’re saying. If you think your dog understands you please let me know and email me! I LOVE those stories!!!
Anyways, going back to business. When you say the word ¨come¨ make sure that you know your dog is going to come to you. If not don’t say it, especially at the beginning. You want to create a solid and very consistent association with the word ¨come¨ and the action of coming to you. Successful repetitions is the key in the first stage.
How do you do this?
Well, it´s easier than what you think.
Choose a place with no or little distractions. Get something your dog really wants or likes. It could be you. Move away from your dog. Ignore him or her for a while. As soon as he or she walks away, call him or her name and say ¨come!¨ You can use a treat, a toy, a ball or whatever you dog really likes. It could be just your attention.
Make some noise and create some excitement if your pup doesn’t come to you right away. Kneeling down also helps. So you can try that too.
When your dog comes, reward him or her with enthusiasm. Then repeat it three to five times. Don’t over do it, because your dog will get bored. Do this several times during the day. Soon your dog will come to you like lightening.
As you are more and more successful add distractions and distance.
Always reward your dog for coming. Never punish or get angry at your dog for coming to you. Even if they just misbehaved, because if you do, your pup will think that he or she is being punished for coming to you. And guess what, next time they wont come to you. They learn pretty fast.
PS: In the next blog I´ll talk about the fascinating second approach: Gravity!
© Gabriel Riesco, Fairfield CT, March 13th, 2018