Teaching Your Puppy To Come To You On Cue

Hunthausen (c)Teaching your puppy to reliably come when you call her is the most important cued-response your pet needs to learn. Besides getting her to come to you when you want to share a little loving, it will help get her away dead things she finds in the yard and out of the street if she gets loose – a real lifesaver. The best time to begin teaching this is when the pup is young. It doesn’t take much time, just repetition, and can be done at the pet’s dinner time. 

To call the pet, you first need the pup across the room from you. Toss a piece of kibble five to six feet so the pup chases after it.  After the pet munches the food, say the pet’s name in an upbeat, excited tone, show her a second piece of kibble and wave your hand toward you so the pet runs back to you. Give the kibble, and then repeat. Do this ten or more times at each meal and the pet will be coming on cue in no time. To really strengthen the response, every once in a while give a tiny piece of lean meat or cheese instead of the kibble. As training progresses, gradually phase out the food, but continue exuberant praise.

Proofing
Next, you will want to proof the pet in different environments and in the presence of gradually more distracting situations. Practice in all rooms of the home, and then in the yard. Once the pup’s vaccinations are up to date begin practicing away from home in parks and other open areas. Attach 50 feet of training line to the collar as a safety measure in case the pup gets distracted and decides to take off after a rabbit.

Avoid weakening the cue
Returning to you on cue should always be a pleasant experience. Never call the pet to scold her or call her in a harsh tone of voice. Young pups are easily distracted, so you don’t want to make the mistake of repeatedly calling them when they are not completely trained and too distracted to respond. Always say the pet’s name before giving the cue. If you say the name loudly in an upbeat tone and are unable to get the pet’s attention, don’t ask her to come. The pup will be unlikely to come on cue if she won’t even look at you. If you need the pup, go get her, but don’t say “Come” over and over again and allow the pet to fail to respond. Just go back to more practice repetitions until the pet is dependable.

Start early, train frequently and proof in gradually more difficult situations. That’s all you need to do to teach your pet to come to you every time you ask.

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