Getting your dog to come to you reliably and consistently can be one of the most challenging and frustrating things to teach your dog. Entire books are dedicated to this subject! It’s not easy and requires a lot of practice and consistency. I will tackle this topic in several posts. Today, let’s review what types of things we do that encourage dogs not to come to us.

When dogs are puppies, we have the opportunity to shape their behavior in order to get the very best behaved dog. Or…we can do things that will forever make your dog difficult. I see many people inadvertently discourage their puppies from coming to them by doing several things:

–          Because pups can be so wild and active, many people will call their pup to them and once the pup finally comes to them, they will grab the pup, mostly by the collar, and restrain the pup.

–          So many times, people will catch their pups doing something wrong and they will call the pup to them and scold the pup.

–          People who use crates to train their pups will call the pup to get him to go into the crate, usually against the pup’s will. The pup quickly learns that “come” means playtime is over and he can no longer have fun.

These incidences all create negative feelings because something bad happened when the pup came to his person. In the pup’s mind, he’s thinking, “I don’t want to come to you because I won’t like it!”

Back in the early 2000’s, I used an accountant for my business who had a very lovely Lab.  She was a sweetheart!  A very soft and loving dog. When we finished with our business meeting one day, the accountant and I went out into the yard to play Frisbee with the dog. She was a wonderful Frisbee girl!  Most of the time, she brought the Frisbee right back to us.  She knew that she would get her reward in another chance to catch it.  But one time when my accountant called to her, she didn’t come back to us and instead decided to sniff around.  He called to her again. After four tries she finally trotted up to us with tail wagging happily.  My accountant scolded her and hit her repeatedly on the rear. She was visibly upset and fearful. I was mortified. I tried to explain to him that if you hit your dog when she finally comes to you, she will never want to come to you again. In the dog’s mind, she’s thinking, “I come to him, I get scolded and hit.” Yes, I quickly changed accountants.

So, tip number one for training your dog to come to you: Make it an enormously happy and wonderful thing whenever your dog comes to you. Always, consistently. It’s obviously best to start as a puppy but any dog can be shown that coming to you is a good thing. After all, if a puppy mill survivor can learn to come to people, any dog can!

Advertisements