Yes! A Primitive Dog Can Reliably Come When Called!
The number one fear of every primitive dog owner is that their dog will get loose. You can see the horror flash behind your eyes as I simply bring it up. Images flash of your dog playing tag with a bird under the car across the street. You haven't known what suffocating fear is till a primitive dog gets loose.
That fear can end today. Or at least you can begin the journey to the end of that fear, starting today. I say start the journey because recall training (aka teaching come) doesn’t happen in a day. Good recall training takes months to learn and years to master. I am an avid hiker. I hike with my dogs off leash. After three years of training.
If you are ready to end the nightmare, let’s start the journey together, today, right now! Go grab some cheese. I’ll wait here….
Back with the cheese? Yes I really meant cheese. If you grabbed crappy Milkbones or other store bought treats, go back and get real cheese! (Really anything from the deli drawer is acceptable.)
Okay now let’s get started...
Step 1: Let me Teach You What “Come” Actually Means
Start out right in front of your dog. I mean like 1 inch away from their feet. Inch not foot!
Now say "come" (or whatever command you want to use in the future). Immediately give your dog a treat. Keep your hand against your leg when you are releasing the treat so that your dog is very close to you.
Do not reach out to the dog. They should be so close they don’t need to move. This is very important. You don’t want your dog to move. You want them to think that this is what come is. Come is not the act of moving. Come is being in front of your feet. Don’t even start in a sit or a down. Standing is fine. Just make sure your dog is only an inch or so away from you.
Repeat this 10-15 times each day for the next week.
Don’t cheat and go to step 2. Well, okay, you can read the rest of the article but don’t actually do step 2 till this time next week.
Step 2: It’s Raining Treats!
Throw a single treat behind your dog. Now as they pick their head up from eating the treat, use the “Come” command. Feed you dog 3-5 treats, one at a time, the moment they get you you. Do not be stingy. They get 3-5 treats. Every time you do this. Make sure you have enough before you throw again. Then throw another. If your dog anticipates and comes before the command, that is GREAT! Still give them the 3-5 treats. What a smart dog!!
Repeat this 10-15 times each day for the next week. While you are doing this, start Step 1 in a new location. If you started this in the house, move the the backyard, front yard on a leash, driveway, neighbor’s house, local park, pet store, wherever! But DO NOT cheat and do Step 2 in those places yet. Only do Step 2 where you did Step 1 last week.
Step 3: Made Ya Look!
Wander around your environment. If your dog becomes distracted by something say "come" and reward them with the 3-5 treats when they get to you. Even if they follow you and never break away, still say “come” and reward them. Slowly increase the distance you move between commands and the distance between you and the dog before using the command. If you are outside be sure to use a long leash attached to you or some other object. Remember to be generous with the treats.
If your dog fails to respond because of a distraction, do not punish your dog. Instead, take a deep breath and then try the command again. If your dog fails to respond 3 times in a row, make your way over to your dog, get their attention and walk them away from the thing distracting them. Once they are 20-30 feet away from the distraction, try again. Do not scold or scruff them on the way to creating space.
Repeat this 10-15 times each day for the next week. While you are doing this, start Step 2 in in all the places to started Step 1 in last week. But DO NOT cheat and do Step 3 in those places yet. Only do Step 2 where you did Step 1 last week.
Step 4: Ditch Your Dog
You’ve made it to Step 4! Congrats. Your dog should be velcro at this point and running to you every time they take a moment to check out life. So now we add in more fun. ON LEASH for safety (10-20 foot leash), throw a treat or let your dog sniff something interesting. While they are busy run in the opposite direction. Either hold the leash or let them drag it if they are not too distracted. If they chase you ROCK ON! Yell Come! Turn and reward them heavily. If they do not automatically chase you, after 10 feet of running, turn and call them. Reward them heavily when they get to you. If they don’t come, calmly walk back and try again at half the distance. If that is still too hard, calmly walk all the way to them, investigate the distraction and encourage your dog to disengage from it.
Repeat 5-10 times per location per day.
Step 5: Greater Freedom
If your dog is now an expert at this, find a fenced in area or outside area away from roads, cars, and heavy distraction. In the latter, still have your dog drag a leash. Now go for a walk! Every Time they check in, reward them!! If they sniff something, ditch them! Practice all the elements of the lessons.
Repeat as often as possible for 2-3 months AT LEAST! I wait till my dog is at least 3 years old and has 6 months of this training in 10 different locations before the leash comes off.
Note: If your dog is very practiced at not coming, it is likely that you have inadvertently taught your dog that “come” means bad things, like being punished, shut away in the house, getting a bath, getting scolded, or being put away in a crate. If this is the case, start with a brand new word and make sure that you are only calling your dog to the things mentioned above, less than 20% of the time.
Show us your progress in the Facebook group! For those wanting more, we cover this in out live programs and we'll be turning this into an in depth online class in the future.