Teaching the Come

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 Beagle 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 schoolyard, 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 instances.

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!

Soon your pup will look like this............

Ready to start  HEELING? -

Authored and contributed by Sandra Fikes-Kalahari Ridgebacks.