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Beginner – Coming When Called

1. The very first exercise you should do is always practiced in a distraction free environment. This is especially true for puppies. Just toss a treat away from the dog, load another treat in your hand and as soon as your dog makes forward motion toward you say “Come” or “Come Here” and treat when the dog gets to you. Practice this several times a day until the dog is coming back to you even after you have faded the second food lure.

You should have already been working on focus with your dog for this to be successful. You can work on focus simply by having your dog on lead outside and marking every time the dog stops sniffing, looking around, etc. to look at you. Marking the behavior can be done with the “YES” or a click of the clicker and then delivering the treat and praise.

2. Take it on the road 🙂 This should also be done with minimal distractions but outside. Use at least a 20-30 foot lead. Allow the dog to go sniff and wander and then load a treat in your hand and call your dog to “come.”

3. Timing is SUPER IMPORTANT! When you call your dog use your marker (the strong YES or a clicker)at the very instant the dog makes forward motion toward you, to let the dog know you like what he just did. Then when he gets to you praise lavishly and praise. By this time, you should have already taught your dog stay and developed a release word like “free” or “release” or a phrase like “go play” to release your dog. After delivering the reward, release your dog to go back to whatever activity he was doing before.

NEVER, EVER, EVER call your dog to you and then do something aversive or negative for the dog, like nail trimming, or crating, or ending a play session. Also, ALWAYS, use a happy voice when calling your dog! I cannot stress to you enough how important that is! If you need to call them to you to leave, be sure and do something else fun for a short period of time before you actually load up to leave, or clip their nails, or whatever it is that they do not love! You don’t want them to associate you calling them to you with “bad” things.

You MUST have your dog on a long lead for safety purposes and for the purpose of gently guiding them to you if they decide to ignore your calling them to come to you. Be sure to talk to them while you’re guiding them back in a happy voice. Don’t yank them and be sure to mark the second that they start to come to you with your YES or click. Praise and treat when they make it to you.

If your dog has already been through basic obedience and you want to sign up for our advanced classes, please contact me at charlotte@seespotsit.org!