Why teach your dog to come to you?
This is the ultimate in safety cues! If your dog ever escapes the home you will want to have a solid foundation for this behavior to potentially save his life. It is also a great way to direct him onto something else. If he is about to check out what’s in the trash, call “Come!” (And give him his reward as you cover the trash can.)
Do these exercises after your dog has learned “Name Recognition”
Teaching the Basic Behavior, “Come”
1. Find a quiet place to practice and get your clicker, treats and dog. Put a treat on the floor for your dog to eat and walk to the other side of the room. Hold your hand out with a treat visible and say your dogs name if he is not looking at you. Once you get his attention (or if you already have it), say “come” in a normal/happy tone of voice. Click when your dog begins to come to you. Praise him the rest of the way and give him a treat when he gets to you. While you reward him, touch his collar (this is a good idea in case your dog ever decides to play the grab the treat and run game!). Practice this about 10 times and take a break. Alternatively you can play this with a second person and “Ping Pong” him back and forth.
2. Begin the exercise in the same way as above, hold your hand out as if you have a treat in it, but it will be empty (we will fool him a bit!). Click him for beginning to come and treat him when he gets to you from your pouch or pocket. Repeat 10 times and take a break.
3. Continue practicing using the empty-hand. This is now a “hand signal”! If you would like, you can also fade this so that the dog responds to the verbal cue alone.
Becoming an Expert at Coming
1. Practice out of sight, outside and in more distracting environments as detailed on the worksheet.
2. Decoy exercise: One person is the “handler” and will call the dog. The
other person is a “teaser” and will try to tempt the dog with food or a toy. If the dog goes toward them while the handler is calling, the teaser should ignore the dog and turn away. When the dog finally comes to the handler, he gets rewards from both the handler and the teaser.
3. Fetch-interrupt exercise: Toss a ball or piece of food. As the dog is chasing it call him. If he comes after getting the ball/treat he gets clicked and one small treat. If he comes before getting the ball/food he gets a click and jackpot. Sometimes you might need a little luring to get him started: toss the ball/food and then quickly put your treat to his nose, click and jackpot if he comes directly to you then fade the lure out.
Alternatively if your dog will fall for it you can try faking him out by making the appropriate motions but not throwing anything. This is a great game to play with his meal of dry food–toss one piece of food, if he interrupts chasing it to come to you when you call, click and give him a whole handful of it.
4. Hide and seek: When you are outside together and your dog is wandering around and seems to have
forgotten you exist, hide behind a tree. When your dog comes looking for you C/T and make a big deal of him. Always work in a safe area.