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June 10, 2020
Training your pup is a great way to bond and build your relationship with each other, but if you start the process without knowing how to do it properly, it can lead to a lot of frustration. Besides teaching your dog appropriate behaviors and helping him be an overall happier pooch, training is also essential when it comes to keeping your dog safe. One of the biggest commands that can make all the difference between potentially dangerous situations ending happily or not-so-pleasantly is the “come” command.
You don’t need to teach your dog a bunch of fancy tricks for him to be a well-mannered pooch, but there are several basic commands like “sit” and “stay” that are absolute musts. Another need-to-know behavior your dog needs to learn is to come to you when you call him. When your pup can successfully come to you, no matter what the situation, you automatically decrease his risk of getting injured, lost, or into trouble. For example, if you see your dog wandering close to a street, you can immediately call him back to you, or if your pup gets out of the backyard, you can call for him to return.
Training your dog to come not only helps keep him safe, but it can also ensure the safety of others. For example, if your pup feels threatened by a stranger and starts to advance on that person, you can call your dog back to your side; or if you see your pup about to enter an area where dogs are not allowed, you can call for him to return before he gets into any trouble.
Before starting any training program with your dog, it’s important to be prepared. You don’t want to stop halfway through a session because you realize you forgot something. Gather supplies like treats to use for rewards, a clicker if you opt to use clicker training, a leash, and collar, and for the “come” command especially, a treat or toy that your pup can absolutely not resist!
When you present commands to your pup, usually you start with a visual signal, then you introduce a verbal cue. With the “come” command, you’ll start with a vocal cue right from the start and include his name. How quickly your dog picks up on the command depends on your pooch and several factors including whether he’s a puppy or an older dog, his activity level, any established habits, and his breed.
Here’s a closer look at things to remember when you train your dog to come to you:
Ultimately, you want your pup to come, so if you sound mad, stern, or bored, well, none of these tones of voice are going to encourage your dog to come near you. Keep your voice positive and upbeat at all times, making it sound like you are about to do something really exciting to entice your pooch to come your way. Crouch down and wave your arms, and basically, make it look like you are ready to play.
Positive reinforcement is very effective when it comes to training your dog. Since the “come” command is super important in regards to your pup’s safety, you want the reward for this behavior to be something irresistible. Choose an item or treat that your dog absolutely loves; it’s a plus if it is something that can help get his attention, like a squeaky toy. Whenever your dog reaches you after you give him the “come” command, reward him immediately, and praise him profusely.
First off, if you are in your yard, you might choose to work off-leash (or you might opt to begin your sessions on a leash until your dog is coming more regularly). However, if you are in a park or public space, make sure to have a long leash on your pup. Dogs love to chase, so if you move away from your pup as you say his name and deliver the “come” command, he is more likely to follow you and move toward you.
Likewise, since pups love a good chase, if your dog decides to run away from you, don’t chase him. This will only make him want to keep going in the opposite direction because he thinks you are playing with him. Instead, say his name in an enthusiastic voice and move away from him, so that he wants to chase after you. Make sure he sees his reward so he is encouraged to keep moving in your direction.
When you first start teaching the “come” command, start with a small distance between you and your pup. Eventually, as he gets more consistent with his response, increase the space between you and your dog until he is coming to you when you call from a far distance.
As your pup continues to successfully come to you when you call him, before you reward him, add in the “sit” command when he reaches you. This will help him understand to stay put instead of running off again.
Every command that you teach your dog needs to hold up against the distractions of everyday life, so when your dog gets good with a command, it’s time to do what is called proofing the behavior. This is basically adding in distractions, one thing at a time so that your pup responds to you no matter what is happening around him.
Follow these tips to get the most out of your dog training sessions:
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