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Teaching Your Puppy To Come

Teaching a young puppy to come when called starts off perfectly. The puppy learns his name and that people use it when they want to give him something fabulous like dinner or a new toy, so he comes running. Well, he soon learns it is not a perfect world. He may hear his name called to come in from outdoors just when he is having fun or while enjoying a nap.

The biggest, the number one mistake people make with this command is to say “Come!" when there is no possible way to enforce it. The puppy only has to disobey a few times when he hears "Come!" and you have taught him (and he has learned) that he has an option. He can come, or not.

Never give him that choice. Only call "Come" if the puppy is on his way into your outstretched arms, or on leash so you can guide him toward you. That rule is in effect until your adult dog is "proofed" (tested by numerous and diverse distractions) at about two years of age. And to be honest, with lots of dogs, it is a lifetime rule.

The second biggest mistake is to call the puppy to come to you and then scold him. Children are guilty of doing this, so be sure that they understand they must never do it to their puppy. If you catch your pet being naughty, you go to him. If he was up to no good and you come upon the scene of the crime even one minute later, it is too late to scold or punish a dog. Just never say, "Come" if you are angry.

Your tone of voice will tell him not to come, not to come anywhere near you; you have set him up to disobey you. So say "Come" when he is happily trotting toward you, or when you have him on leash a few feet in front of you and can guide him to you if he is distracted. Until he is older and much better educated, call the puppy with just his name. When he responds and is racing toward you, then get in a "Come good dog" as quickly as you can say it.

Always use a happy voice, crouch down, open your arms wide, smile, and when your puppy is on his way, say "Come!" If you have been having trouble getting a prompt response, have a treat ready. Another way to encourage a puppy to come to you is to pretend to run the other way. As the pup comes after you, stop, turn and say, "Come!" (Smile, treat or pat.) It is the irresistible game of chase and puppies love it!

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