“Come” is the most important cue to teach your dog because it can save his/her life. The number one cue known to a dog? Take a guess. Seriously, think about it. Not that I statistically based this, but going on an educated guess, it’s “sit.” Why? What do we do when we pull a treat out of the jar? We cue “sit” so typically “sit” is daily reinforced.
Next time you pull the treat out of the jar instead of cueing “sit,” cue “come.” Reinforce this behavior as much as possible! Below is one of my favorite training exercise of all times. This exercise is from my book, Come Boy! Train Your Dog to Come Every Time.
Ping Pong Puppy
Ping Pong Puppy is similar to the egg toss game, an “oldy goldy” game that we played every 4th of July when I was a kid in Iowa. You and a partner face each other in close proximity. Each takes a turn tossing the egg. Once the egg is successfully passed, then each person takes a step back to repeat. The goal of the game is to be the last pair without a broken egg. We are going to play this game with your dog, but instead of tossing an egg, we will call your dog to “come.”
Two people stand six feet apart from each other with the dog in the middle. Each person takes a turn to call the dog, “Name, come!” As soon as he looks at you say, “good” and treat when he gets to you. After each person has called him/her, take one step back. If your dog doesn’t understand, then decrease the distance, and be sure to make the sessions short initially.
Continue adding more distance if your dog is successfully coming every time. As your dog is successful in the exercise, add more distractions. Head outdoors and try it with the lead on, of course. The lead is not for pulling; it’s there in case your pup decides that the rabbit would be more fun than the hotdog treat. You do not want to get into the habit of relying on a leash to get your dog to come. If you do, you will be forever using the leash for recalls. I want you to have success with come whether your dog is on or off the leash.
This summer focus on getting a strong “come” behavior by working on the ping pong puppy exercise through your front door, out of your car, and fence gateway. Be sure to set your dog up for success and know that you have done all you can to keep him/her safe. Happy Training!
Blog written by Michelle Huntting