Training Dogs to Come

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Santa Cruz County Dog Training

  Having a Reliable Come Command

  Having a puppy or adult dog not Come (Recall) when called can be an owners nightmare.  It’s common for owners to believe at one time their puppies had a good Recall. However, puppy nature has a funny way of fooling  humans. Unfortunately for humans dogs senses have other ideas which goes along with its instincts.  Under the age of 3 – 4 months old puppies just love being with their human owners. The puppy and owners love to play games together. They chase each other to their heart’s delight. When the owners clap their hands and sweet talks the puppy it comes running happily. This isn’t enough for a puppy to have a Reliable Recall. It takes more work. Reality for the owner quickly sets in once the puppy is outside, looks at the horizon ahead, and sees no boundaries.  It’s now called the “Point of No Return.3589_11358_23369

  Around 4-5 months old puppies quickly venture out and discover the new world. The distractions are plentiful and they easily become engulfed in it. It almost appears to owners they no longer exist to the puppy. Unknowingly to the owners their little baby is growing up fast. In Dog Training we call this new world “Distractions”.  To the dog it’s not really doing anything wrong. It’s just following its nose and curiosity. To the owners it seems to be mutiny.

  Owners try everything to get their little darlings back to no avail. They try yelling at them , screaming for help, waving their arms, running after them, bribing them with promises. In the end nothing seems to work. Finally 15 minutes later the puppy returns to the owners. Maybe the owners scream harshly at the puppy and pull hard on the leash. Whatever the case may be, most owners become highly frustrated at the repeated offenses.  They also find it very embarrassing as the puppy gets older.  What’s an owner to do? 

  First of all new dog owners should always get a good book on Puppy Training. This will help owners fore-see what’s in the future with their puppy. The next thing is owners should never put their puppies in a situation where the owners can’t control. In other words, some puppies aren’t ready to discover the new world and listen to the owners at the same time. In human years a  6 month 40 pound puppy is equal to a 7-year-old child. What 7-year-old child listens totally to their parents?

  In general some puppies grow up being leaders and some followers. At a young age Leader dogs typically have a sense of confidence that allows them to wander far without thought to owners. Whereas Followers have a tendency to watch and stay close in case owners start to move away. As Followers mature they may start to wander away but stay within eye contact to owners. Even at a far distance a follower will for the most part have the owners on their mind. This is obvious by how the follower always looks up in the owners direction even at a hundred yards away.  Followers typically master Recalls easily. Of course there’s many variables that dictate whether a dog masters  a good Recall or not. It’s not always based on dog being a Leader or Follower.

  Owners should always train their puppy to succeed in RecallsPlaying Games around the home is always fun for puppies and owners. At this stage the least distractions the better. All the owners need is their loving charm and some treats. Playing games develop motor patterns in the puppies brains.

  First  Game Exercise: RUNNINGJackRussellMollyTopSpeed1

Important:  High value treats should be used for all games!

   Two people should start off by standing at opposite ends of each other inside the house. Take turns calling the puppy to them. Saying, “Come” or “Lets go” is fine as long as puppy is Coming. Remember to make the game fun. Be enthusiastic, be animated, sweet talk, clap hands, tap chest or thighs while moving backwards.  Crouching down also works well. Do whatever gets the puppy excited enough to want to be with you. Dogs are very observant so how you appear to them in these drills will be how they remember them when you’re outside away from home. When puppy comes give lots of Praise and Reinforce with a little treat. Repeat this procedure for a few minutes or as long as puppy is having fun. It’s a good thing if the  puppy is running hard and fast towards each person. Although,  if the puppy is moving  slow that’s fine as long as the puppy does come .  This game can also be played with 4 people making  a circle.

Second  Game Exercise:

   Play hide and Seek with your puppy. This is an all time favorite for everybody young or old. Start off by one person holding collar of puppy while one person hides somewhere in the house. The person hiding when ready should call the puppy. The person holding should release and the puppy will bolt off for the hunt. Remember to be enthusiastic. When puppy finds the person hiding  Praise and Reinforce with small treat.  The people should now switch roles and continue the game. This Come game can be taken immediately out to the backyard if it’s safe. So the puppy can run from inside to outside looking for the caller. It’s a very fun game.

Third  Game exercise:

   This next game I call,  “The Distraction Game”. Start with two people at opposite ends of each other. One person will be the Distractor and the other the Caller. The Distractor sitting on floor with treat in fist will target treat under puppies nose.  When puppy gets interested the fist with treat should go onto the floor. The puppy should not get treat no matter what its attempts are. At this point the Caller begins to call the puppy.  It’s important for Caller to be enthusiastic once again. When puppy turns towards the Caller he/she should be visibly attractive to the puppy.  Use earlier mentioned techniques to make sure puppy comes. When puppy comes give high Praise and Reinforce with a small treat. The people at this point can reverse roles and repeat game.

Things to note with Third Come Game.

  • If puppy isn’t catching the game try a lower value treat or object. Or set up the game better to be successful.
  • If puppy is doing well with the game  raise the Value of the treat or object. Try using real meat, cheese, or a special toy instead of treats. The better results with higher value treats/objects can mean better results away from home.
  • If puppy is doing well with Come game in the house take out to the backyard.
  • These games are also useful for adult dogs with bad Recalls.

   Teaching Recalls is important for all dog owners. An owner that makes themselves the affection of their dog goes along ways. If an owner sets the standard early on that they are the distributors of all good things the dog will respond in a positive manner. Remember nothing is free they must work for it.   Happy training.


  Giovannas Dog Training provides Private Dog Training, Private Puppy Training, Dog Group Training, and Puppy Group Training.

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