The new year is right around the corner and it's the perfect time to set some new resolutions for ourselves and our dogs. We've come up with the top ten essential commands for keeping our pups safe, and with the Good Pooch series, we'll be giving you our top tips for training your dog each command. Today, we'll be going over the first command: teaching your dog to 'Come'.
The Importance of 'Come'
This command really trains your dog to have good recall, which is possibly the most important you could ever teach your dog. In an emergency situation, whether it's an oncoming car, a dangerous animal on the prowl, or a squirrel across the street, good recall is the thing that saves dogs' lives.
Tips for Training:
1. Positive Reinforcement
To effectively train your dog to have near perfect recall, you have to make them believe that coming when you call is the best thing they could ever do. That's right—even more than snuggling with you, balancing a whole tower of treats on his head, or politely sitting in his bed while you're eating, you need to make your dog think that coming when you call will earn them a doggy Nobel prize. When you're first training your pooch to 'Come', shower them with praise and treats, and reinforce this positive result consistently.
2. Get Pitchy
Dogs are amazing at discerning our moods from our tone of voice, so when you tell your pooch to 'Come', don't use the same tone as when you tell her 'Dinner's ready' or 'I'll be back soon.' Make sure you sound like you mean business when you say 'Come' and that it sounds different enough from your regular tone of voice so that the difference in pitch and tone will trigger your dog's attention.
3. Focus Level: Laser
Half of training recall is getting your pup's attention—the other half is maintaining their focus. Teaching focus involves your tone of voice as well: once you get your dog's attention, encourage them to continue coming to you with supportive words and gestures. Once your dog gets distracted by something, change your tone of voice immediately and give them a sharp 'No!'—when they get startled by your negative tone and turn back towards you, instantly change your tone again and positively encourage them to keeping coming towards you. The alternating negative and positive tones will gradually teach your dog to focus on running all the way to you.
4. Starting Small
Like all dog training, you need to start off by teaching your pup in a safe and contained space. Begin training your pooch at home in an enclosed room with as few distractions as possible, and then slowly amplify the training by bringing the pooch to larger spaces and introducing more distractions. For more info on this part of the recall training process, check out our previous post on the steps to training your dog to 'Come'.
Remember, training takes patience and diligence! Follow our tips and with a large dose of diligence, your dog will be a master at recall in no time.