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“COME” Basic command training steps.

Training rule: Never correct your dog after calling him to you!
If he deserves a correction, go to him and give the correction.
“Stop doing what you are doing!”

Step 1 Teaching the meaning of “Come” with food:

The aim here is for an immediate response from the dog and at the same time to make it a pleasurable experience for him. At home, on walks etc always have food handy to reward your dog when he comes to you; Click and Treat, make a big fuss, “Good come“, and “Good dog“.
In an enclosed area two or more family members can take turns calling the pup (or untrained dog) back and forth. Sit or bend down when you call the dog.
It is important that the dog associates the word “Come” with something good such as food or hugs. Dogs soon learn that when they respond to “Come” a leash is attached to them and their freedom ends, so they become reluctant to come to the owner. So, call the dog, praise, hug and treat and send him to play some more before you call again. When the puppy or dog comes perfectly every time, the food treats or tug games are gradually reduced to about half the time. Treats are now reserved for the best efforts. When he starts reacting consistently to the word “Come”, we go on to the next step.

Step 2 Back up on “Come” command:

We make use of the natural instinct of the young dog to follow moving objects. Wait for him to become distracted. Call him and then run backwards while you continue to call “Come”. Praise/Click and treat, “Good dog” etc.

* NO SIT: We want him to come in fast. That is why we back up! Sit will only slow him down.

* NO CORRECTIONS: If he does not come do not correct him. Teach him that failure to comply ends the fun you are having.You must be very sure that he knows the “Come” command before you correct him. A correction is something that signals to the dog that he must stop doing what he is doing or something unpleasant wil happen. Simple punishment like yanking the chain on the dog without a warning to give the dog a chance to avoid the correction, will only influence the willingness of the dog to work at all. People who rely on punishment to train their dogs take months if not years longer to teach the same thing. Withdrawing your love, even for a short while should be enough punishment for your dog.* FOOD must only be given when you call him and he comes to you. C+T Gradually phase out food by only rewarding the best efforts.
The word “SIT “can be introduced when the dog enjoys the game.

Try to practise these exercises in at least three or four different locations.

Step 3 Formal “Come” training:

Give a “Sit St-a-ay“command. Move to3-4 paces in front of the dog. Call, “Come” followed by an automatic pop on the leash, back up (i.e. run backwards). Food and enthusiastic praise must be given when he gets to you. C+T. Make very sure that the pop is given immediately after the “come” command i.e. before he comes to you.
The dog will try to beat the automatic pop and jump forward towards you.

Step 4 Eliminate back ups when you have good speed:

The reason for speed in coming is to eliminate distractions on the way. When good speed is achieved discontinue back ups and add, “Sit” when he is a few paces from you. Make the sit period very short. Lots of praise must be given for good speed.
If you see the dog slowing down, continue with back ups again. I use a ball on a string to get Quanto to come to me with speed. When he is quite close to me I throw the ball through between my legs and he passes between my legs in a hurry to get to the ball.Repeat until your dog rushes at you when you say,”Come.”

Step 5: Add distractions.

Now distractions are very important. Think of distractions that you may add e.g.: Give a good “Stay”, then:
1 Noise before “Come” call, e.g. someone clap hands.
2 Moving about before calling the dog.
3 Talking to the dog,” Are you ready?” Make him excited to rush forward.
4 A distracter rolls a ball, shows the dog the tug toy or that he has liver treats etc. The dog must learn that the only way to get these rewards is to obey the handler.
Obedience classes provide the best distractions because of all the dogs and handlers nearby.

If the dog anticipates the command by coming before being called, do not charge him but say,”No,” reel him in and gently “reverse” him to the starting position. In the very beginning it may be better to just ignore the dog and teach him that coming before being called has no rewards.
Step 6 Random recall with long line. Discontinue food:
Continue the exercise as before but now let him drag the long line. Never let the dog drag the long line unattended. It may be caught in places that could harm him.
Let him wander around for a while. Get hold of the line before calling him. Pop or reel him in if necessary. The secret is to make the pop quite “sharp”and the dog will immediately rush to you for enthusiastic praise and reward.
Do not go off leash too soon. Most beginners make the mistake of going off-leash before the dog listens to their voices.

Step 7 Off leash:

When he consistently performs on the long line it is time to go off leash.
Give a “Down stay” and practise random recalls. Place obstacles in the way for him to go around. E.g. a box, chairs, another dog lying in the way, move around a corner…. etc.
Learn to read your dog. Watch him very closely and try to avoid mistakes. Always first consider if the mistake made by the dog is not your fault. Maybe you missed something.

If the dog makes mistakes go back to on-leash work.

What is important is to realise that if I am responsible for teaching my dog to “come”, it is my job to convince my dog that he must come every time I call him. If the dog realises that he need only come after a few calls or when your voice sounds angry enough he is never going to be reliable. Also never give a command that you cannot enforce, until you are confident that he will respond immediately no matter what is happening around him.

Your dog should now be ready for more advanced work and should make you proud of him.


Dogs know that when they are 5 paces away from the handler, “You can’t catch me!
Nearer than that they can feel the presence of the trainer and will most likely come when called. That is why it is important to know the limits of your area of influence over your dog.

Older dogs and some Rescue dogs  that have not been trained as puppies to come when called and/or have been running free for some time may need a different approach to getting them to come on command. They need to understand that they cannot escape the handler and avoid a correction (Stop doing what you are doing) and at the same time the handler’s area of influence can be increased.

Several different lengths of light nylon line must be used. A shorter 1.5m line should at first be worn anytime the dog is with the handler, including eating, playing, riding in the car, training etc. The dog must become very aware of the fact that the handler has control of him at all times. The longer lines must be used when the dog is beginning to move further away. The idea is for the handler to be able to get to the line if the dog wants to escape. The handler can step onto the line and instantly halt the disobedience.

What is very important is that the dog must not be called unless it is wearing the line. A verbal command must always be given first so that the dog learns to connect the handler’s call and the correction that will follow if it refuses to obey immediately and be aware that it cannot escape the correction.

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