HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DOG NOT TO COME!
When people enroll their puppies in any type of training class, they almost always have one or both of these complaints as their number one reason for attending: "I can’t keep him from jumping on everyone" "He doesn’t come when I call him"
In this article, I will help you to understand how new dog owners (and sometimes repeat offenders, too!) consistently train their dogs NOT to come when they are called! I will also show you the right way to teach your dog to come running when you call.
And picture this:
Remember, dogs know ONLY “dog language” when they come to live with us. WE must teach them our language. In the above examples, Daisy did not learn OUR translation for the word “COME”. She learned “COME” meant “angry owner – I’m in trouble now. Better scram out of here!” We want Daisy to learn that “COME” means “Get your buns to me in the fastest way possible – NO EXCEPTIONS!” Puppy needs to understand that COME means GOOD stuff – ALWAYS!
Rules for "COME"
Whenever the "COME" command is used (during the stage where the dog does not yet understand what come means) a leash MUST always be attached to the dog, with YOU at the other end. NEVER give a command you cannot follow through or control.
NEVER use your recall word ("COME", or whatever word you choose) to call your dog to discipline him, correct him, tell him what a bad dog he is, or for any negative reason. Bad deeds MUST be caught IN THE ACT in order to correct. If you still need your dog by you for a negative reason, give him a firm SIT command and go get him.
No matter how MAD you are, "COME" should ALWAYS end positively – with happy praise, food or whatever. When my Golden, Bailey, was a puppy, I had a difficult time getting her to come in from the yard. She had more fun out there than in the house. One particular rushed day, she wouldn’t come inside, and I was ANGRY. I brought my long line outside, IN MY NIGHTGOWN, and hooked her to it. I practiced 5 or 10 recalls, with a positive tone in my voice, but the words I used were NOT nice (remember, dogs don’t understand English unless you teach them what the words mean – FIRST, they understand tone). “Bailey, COME, you stupid idiot.” “GOOD DOG, you JERK!” All were said happily, and I was able to vent my anger and still teach her what was right.
Wherever you want your dog to come reliably, you should practice with your dog THERE. In the park with other dogs around. Down the street where his favorite game of ball is being played with kids running around. EVERYWHERE.
When you practice recalls (COME) with your dog, keep the practice to 5 minimum, 10 maximum per practice session. Too few and the dog won’t learn the concept well. Too many and the dog will get VERY bored and tune you out. Practice sessions should be done at least once daily - up to two or three sessions per day.
Don’t always practice recalls with food as a reward. What if you are outside without your training clothing on – without food in those pockets? Your dog has come to expect food. Hmmm: don’t think I’d come!
If your dog gets out of your house, yard, or car without your control DO NOT CHASE HIM! He will just think of it as a game and keep running. Instead, YELL his name to get his attention and TAKE OFF in the OTHER DIRECTION! Then YOU are IT in the “game” and he will chase after YOU instead. Then, pounce on him at the first opportunity. Don’t bother to use COME either – you will almost certainly be ignored by your dog then. You can practice this emergency exercise in the safety of your backyard too.
In order to teach the recall (COME), you need two very important pieces of equipment: something around the dog’s neck and something connecting you with the dog. I like to have any kind of collar around the dog’s neck – anything from the buckle collar you already have his ID attached to (you DO, don’t you?), to slip collars, martingales, and – in many cases – a prong collar. The line between you and your dog may be as short as your 6 foot training leash or up to a 30 foot long line. You can incorporate a “Flexi”-type lead into this, too. The only time this WON’T work is when you start dropping the long line to test your dog’s understanding of “COME”. The “Flexi” will “chase” the dog and scare him!
Practice first with just the long line (NOT attached to the dog). The idea of the long line is to gather up the slack as the puppy is running toward you WITHOUT “reeling” him in like a fish. Keep one arm straight out in front of you, palm up. Run the long line over that palm. The other hand will grasp the end of the long line, give tugs to the puppy and either toss the line out behind you or gather the line up as the puppy runs to you. This is the guide that keeps the puppy on his way to you once you have called him.
Clip the long line to Puppy’s collar and let him explore in your backyard, walking freely. You’ll want to try this there first, so you won’t feel foolish if you don’t look good! Have the other end of the line in your hand. Once Puppy gets interested in something (tree, leaf, toy or other dog):
A moving target is much more interesting to Puppy than a stationary one. Standing in one place will look very boring to your pup in the training stages. Once you call your puppy, back up quickly, creating a target. Puppies love to chase!
Two people can work this recall exercise as well. The Handler uses the long line (as above). The other person (Holder) holds the puppy and releases when the Handler tugs the line after “Puppy, COME!”. After puppy reaches Handler, the end of the line can then be tossed to the Holder and the recall can be reversed with the Handler now becoming the Holder.
Variations on a theme:
Dealing with Problems:
Pam Young, LVT
Copyright 1996- 2006, Pam Young