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The Come Command

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by Jess
Out of all the things you can teach your dog the come command is one of the most important.  It could even save your pet's life.
The first thing you must remember about the come command is you should never, call your dog and then punish it. It doesn't matter if your dog was misbehaving when you called it, if your dog comes to you when you call it that cancels out the misbehavior.  You maybe able to get away with it once or twice, but your dog will quickly associate coming to you with getting punished and won't come to you.  I always tell people to look at it this way, if someone called you over to them and then yelled at you, would go over to them the next time they called. Probably not, and you shouldn't expect your dog to either.  So if you must disipline your dog you need to go to the dog and then do it.
To teach the come command you will need a leash, some treats, and maybe your dog's favorite toy.  Take your dog outside on the leash, somewhere where there aren't to many distactions.  Let the dog explore for a little bit while you just stand there.  Then call your dog with his name and come.  You want to do this in an upbeat tone of voice and may even want to kneel down, as some dogs are a little afraid of coming to someone looming over them, especially if its a puppy or new dog.  You may need to reel your dog in with the leash the first couple times. 
When your dog gets to you praise him excitedly and give him a treat.  If you brought his favorite toy with show him the toy and play with him for a minute or two.  Let your dog settle down and then repeat four or five times. And then call it a day. If your dog starts to get bored end the session, he won't learn if he gets bored and if you keep pushing he may even regress a little.
After your dog is coming nicely on his leash, you will want to add some distance. to do this either go and get a twenty foot leash or you can make your own out of clothes line or rope, just buy a clip to tie to one end.
Take your dog back outside on the long line.  The method for this is same as with your dog's normal leash.
When your dog is doing well with that you will want to start weaning out the toys and treats.  Start by calling your dog and give him the treat and toy as usual along with the praise.  On the next one eliminate either the toy or the treat.  Next time eliminate the other.  Basically switch back and forth for this session. Your dog may even begin coming to you faster because he never know which reward he'll get.
The next day you will want switch between the treat and praise, the toy and praise and praise only. 
 Weaning out treats and toys will generally take about a week, with other commands I can usually accomplish this within on two sessions but since this is the come command, and I feel the most important I take it alot slower with this one.
The next day your going to do the same thing only this time your going to elimanate one of the things two or three times. It would go something like this:
Call dog, reward with treat and praise.
Call dog, reward with toy and praise
Call dog, reward with praise.
Call dog, reward with toy and praise
Call dog, reward with praise
Call dog, reward with toy and praise
Call dog, reward with treat and praise.
The next day only give the elimated item once and then cut it out completely.  You will still want to give it on various occasions just to keep your dog guessing. Now you will begin to switch between praise only and praise and the item that's left.  Do this for a few days and then start to eliminate the other item the same way you eliminated the first.
Now that you have gotten down to praise only (remember to give a surprise once in awhile to keep your dog guessing) its time to start in another area.
Start with your dog on his normal leash.  You will want to bring along a couple treats.  Train the same way as you did in the previous area.  You will want to use treats and maybe the toy the first few times, but since your dog already know this eliminating them will go alot faster, maybe just use them for a day or two. 
You may wonder why you need to repeat things in a new area.  This is because dog's are situation specific animals.  This means that they get the idea that something only works in one spot, unless you show them different.  Now your saying but I can't teach my dog in every possible spot it may be in. I know and you won't have to .  All you need to is teach your dog in maybe seven places and around distractions. When you do this your dog thinks ok it does work everywhere and then he'll do it everywhere.  I hear alot of times 'I don't get it, listens when we're at home'  and I always ask 'Have you taught him in other places or just at home'. Most people just train their dog is one spot and expect him to know it in another place, people do fine in different places, dogs are different.
Now your dog should be listening to the come command very well, and you can give it a try without a leash.  I only reccommend trying this in an enclosed area  just in case.  You should always keep your dog on a leash unless your in a safe area.
If at any point in your training the starts to go backwards then back up to the previous step. 
I know this sounds like alot of work and other trainers may do things faster or won't use treats and things.  But I just want your dog to come to you reliably, because this seems to be such a problem for a lot of people. I think that you will find the work involved is worth it in the end.
If you have any questions feel free to email me.  (Contact page)

The information contained on this site is not intended to be a replacement for proper veterinary care.  We cannot diagnose or suggest treatments of illnesses over the internet, it is not only illegal but also dangerous. If your pet is ill take it to a veterinarian.
If you use any of the information on this site you do so at your own risk.

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