How To Train Your Dog With A Single Command That Could Save His Life
A good command to teach your dogs right after the down command is the come command. It's important that your dog understands that it has to return to you at your first call under any situation. Around busy roads, or around other dogs which may attack, this could literally save your dog's life!
We start teaching this command by using a long training line that is nice and light. When it lies on the ground it shouldn't be an anchor to the dog. You're going to have the dog in a sit position, and you're going to back away as you call the dog to you. This allows you to teach them how to do this at a close distance at first, then allow them to move off with the line still attached to them at a greater distance. Then you're still able to get hold of the dog at any any time that you need to if they don't respond. This is good training technique for ANY command you teach the dog.
The line helps us so the dog can never bolt away from us when they are off a distance and see something distracting. You have to teach them that under any situation you can always get hold of them and reinforce what you've asked them to do, and the lead is what does this.
The Starmark Collar is an industry leader
I'm often asked what lead/collar to use for training. Just about anything can be used as a lead line, but you MUST have a good collar. The Starmark collar is one of the best around and can be purchased online at a very reasonable price. Don't let the intimidating look scare you. These collars are VERY humane, as no dog will pull against them and hurt himself. I also use chains. They are cheap and effective, as well as easy to apply and remove.
Begin by putting the dog in sit/stay. Slowly back from the dog after he's been given the stay command. Go back to the end of your rope and open your stance up. Hit your legs and give the come command "come". Gently pull the dog towards you with the lead, step towards the dog as he gets to you, and place them into the sit position.
You don't need to really reinforce the sit position at this point; you want the dog to automatically sit as they come in but don't be overly concerned about the sit. You can force him into the sit position, but don't always need to verbalize it. We want him to learn that come means to come over and sit down. Repeat this a few times. Make sure that you don't tug on the dog as you back away-that's unfair to them so just be careful with your line. When they've come to you again, put him in a sit position and give him praise.
When giving the command, use one tone that is firm and loud enough that the dog can hear you. Higher tones are more effective than the low growl the tones when the dog is off in a distance. if you use a tone that is too low it doesn't carry through all the distracting sounds that naturally occur around. When the dog is in the sit position, he needs to remain there until we release him with our release command. I use "OK".
Your dog should remain sitting until YOU release him!
Once you've reinforced this come command a number of times and you can see that the dog is responding without the need for correction, then try it with the line completely on the ground so that the dog understand that you're not using the line to bring them to you. Let him learn that he has to respond on their own.
Try going for a stroll with the dog ten or twenty feet from you and try your command again. If they don't respond at that point that's where you have to run to them pick up your line and run back to where you called them, reinforcing with a couple of snaps along the way so they understand it is correction.
If you practice this for fifteen or twenty minutes a day in the course of about a week to a week and a half you should have a dog that is responding under more and more distraction to the come command.
So when the dog is at a distance and you give the command, if they ignore us you give them two seconds to respond. Once you realize they're not responding you run over grab the dog's line, and run back. Snap them every five or eight feet just reinforcing the fact that the whole run back to where you called is part of the correction. When you get back to where you issued the command, pull up on the dog so they're in a sit position. This teaches them that the come command means they come directly to us and sit in front of us.
Once the dog is in this position they have to stay in the sit until you release them and the release again is "OK". Don't forget to praise the dog! Even after you've forced him to come and sit, praise him to let him know this is what you want.
For a while you must not take the lead off of your dog. He should wear it almost constantly, whenever he's out. If you let him out without it he'll take advantage, knowing that you're not in control, and run away. After some time doing this, maybe a month, you'll just have an "oh duh" moment and realize he's responding properly and you can let him out without the lead.
Sometimes a maintenance correction might be in order once in a while, but as long as you reinforce the come command routinely he'll know he has to obey.
That's it for the Come command. Happy training!
PS - It's almost Memorial Day as I write this. Please take a few moments to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.