Teaching the Come
By Sandra Fikes
I like to teach the come in two parts......the
formal and the informal.
First, the Informal: Get a pocket full of treats
and hook the pup up to a long line, rather than a short leash. Go out in
the front or back yard and just follow the puppy around. When he's not
paying attention to you, call his name and say "Come!" Use the happiest
voice you can muster to say it, then "reel" him in! Get down on his level
and praise, praise, Praise.....with LOTS of PETTING and TREATS. * It helps
if you laugh a lot, too! :-) After everyone calms down a bit, get up and
walk around the yard again until he's lost interest in you ( that might
be a problem if it's a Ridgeback and you still have a pocketful of treats!).
Then call him again, if he doesn't come, reel'em in and go through that
whole routine of praising and treats. I like to do this exercise about
3 times then quit for the day. The next time you do this exercise pick
a different spot....if you were in the backyard, go to the front. After
your puppy starts anticipating your little "game", you'll need to go to
a place where there is more of a distraction - like a park or an empty
lot or a school yard, etc. It doesn't take long for the puppy to get the
hang of this exercise. You should gradually leave off the treats and go
with the praise......we don't all walk around with treats in our pockets
on a normal day!
The Formal ( also known as The Recall): Your puppy
should be steady on the sit/stay if you are working alone. If you have
someone to help - even better! Begin with laying out a long line....about
15-30 ft. Have the puppy to sit and hook the line to his collar. ( If you
have a helper, have them stand behind the puppy so they can hold the collar
lightly when you walk off.) Tell the puppy to "Stay" or "Wait" and walk
to the end of the long line, turn and face him. Get down on your knees
or sit on the ground.....put a BIG smile :-) on your face, look inviting....call
the puppy's name and say "Come". (* Use "come" ONLY once*) Then clap your
hands and/or throw them out wide - it's that "invitation" thing. Puppy
should come barreling at you, if not, use the long line and reel him in.
Either way, PRAISE and PET for one full minute as if he had done it perfectly!
Do this part of the come exercise for one week, then move on to the second
step. Be sure to vary the time between when you get down and call the dog.
Otherwise, they will begin coming when they see you get down on the ground......It's
sooo much fun!
NOTE: Coming should ALWAYS be a fun thing. NEVER
call your dog to do something to him he doesn't like - a bath or cutting
his toenails, for example. You should just walk over and get him in those
Second week of the formal COME starts out similar
to the first. The basic difference is instead of getting all the way down
to the ground, you get on your knees but are upright, so you are getting
taller all the time. You still give the sit and stay commands, call his
name and tell him to "come", give lots of praise, but as you are praising,
gently touch his rump and ask him to sit, then continue to praise.
The third week, you bend down or if you still
have good knees ;-), you squat down, call the dog and as he starts to you
- straighten up. You still ask for a sit and give praise from the
upright position. **If your pup is motivated by treats you can still give
treats along with the praise.
By the fourth week, you are standing upright as
you call the puppy. Now you can start adding a formal hand signal if he's
coming straight to you and not swerving off to smell the bushes or running
right passed you. Visualize this - how do you motion for someone who is
a good distance away? Arm out and swing it into and across the chest.....something
like that? Well, this is also a good hand signal for the "Come". When you
get ready to call the dog, say his name and give both the command "Come"
and the signal at the same time. Eventually, all you will have to give
is the signal......and you'll be able to wow those relatives with you silent
signal to call your pup! As with the informal COME, you gradually leave
off the treats but be lavish with the praise!
Ready to start HEELING?
These articles are written by Sandra Fikes