posted 08/15/15


Step 1:  Become a better pack leader so your dog pays attention, respects you, and exercises self control in your presence.

Step 2:  Teach your dog, in a positive and fun way, what you want when you say “(Dog’s name,) Come!”

Step 3:  Always enforce your commands.

Step 4:  Repeat Step 1.

Sound simple?  It is.  What’s hard is following through.  We practiced “coming when called” when the dog was younger and now we assume the dog will just stay good at it, without us having to do any of the work.  Then we get frustrated because the dog runs away and ignores our commands to come back.  If we want something to happen, we have to work for it.  You want your dog to come when called?  Make a commitment to WORK on this command! 

So let’s go back to Step 1.  Become a better leader.  Start teaching your dog to take you seriously.  Be prepared to enforce any command you give.  Make your dog work for the basics of life (i.e., sitting and showing calm submission before you give him his food).  Guide him on a leashed, hour-long energy walk every morning.  Give him affection AFTER you have provided the exercise and discipline, not before.

Now, Step 2.  This is a great activity AFTER your walk.  Step 2 satisfies the “discipline” category.  Get a pocket full of Flint River Ranch kibble.  Give the “Come” command and reward your dog with a morsel if he looks at you.  Now move a foot farther from your dog.  Repeat, and reward your dog for moving toward you.  Continue to lengthen the distance between you and your dog by stepping way from him as you say the command.  Reward him for coming to you.  Try feeding him his entire bowl of food this way.  This will result in hundreds of successful training repetitions.  Do this only when your dog is very hungry.

            About Step 3…enforcing.  Be careful!  Part of the reason your dog doesn’t like to come to you now is because sometimes you turn into a big meanie when you use the word, “Come.”  If you start out sounding friendly, but end up sounding or looking scary and uninviting, your dog is going to listen to your ENERGY, not to your COMMAND.  NEGATIVE ENERGY tells him to distrust you and run the opposite way!

            You can ENFORCE in a nice, positive way, with positive energy.  To do so, you must be prepared, whenever you give a command, to physically see it through.  Thus, take care NOT to give any commands you cannot enforce.  Set yourself up for success BEFORE you utter a command.  Don’t gamble.  If your dog is across the yard from you, move in closer to him BEFORE you give the “come” command.  Have a treat in your hand and ready for him.  Be sure he’s not associating coming to you with anything negative (like you leaving him all day).  Out-think your dog.  Instead of standing at the back door and calling him every time, walk to the opposite corner of the yard and call him from a different direction.  Be non-confrontational and non-threatening.  Do not give the command at all unless you know you will be physically able to enforce it the first time you give it.
            Because dogs are intelligent free-will creatures, the issue of coming when called will always be a challenge.  Even older dogs will benefit from weekly, if not daily, tune-ups on this command.






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