Play, Engage; Train! For safety’s sake and general good manners; your Dog ought to respond to a simple request: “COME HERE, PLEASE.” Let’s see if we can do this while also having fun.
- Find an area where your Dog (yes singular) can wander off and interact with their environment, like a friend, a varmint in a tree, but nothing so interesting that they will completely ignore you and your future requests to play and engage… because that is the goal of this whole exercise.
- When they are NOT paying attention to you and NOT enjoying an ecstasy roll in a dead something or other; Call to them with a happy voice and loose body. Advice is NOT to use their names and to NOT tell them your intended goal like the words: COME HERE. (You’ll see.) Get their attention and when they look, quickly back away – run away from them! Not too far and not too fast. Don’t lose their attention. Be entertaining, a yahoo let’s party timbre to your voice while dancing backwards. Create distance and it is ‘game on’ they cannot help but run towards you! Bounce a ball. Squeak a toy. Dance!
- Most important piece of information = do NOT say “COME HERE” = wait until they have, in actuality, COME to you. When they are HERE then give them the greatest praise saying happily COME HERE several times plus if they like: body rubs, favorite toys, laying down at your feet, or small treats. Always remember that coming to you and being with you are the biggest rewards!
- Repeat this several times… Go away, give them time to become distracted or disinterested in you. Then, get their attention by being engaging enough to get them to run to you because YOU are fun, happy to be around, you know how to play, and how to reward. Coming to you will become their high value reward.
- Continue to play this game and getting the happy results of COMING TOGETHER before you add the word signal = COME HERE. If they are consistently coming when you dance; start saying COME HERE when they are heading to you but still 20’ away, then 40’ away etc. Don't rush this piece as it marks progress. Sounds also work well and can be unique to you 2 – hand clapping, a tssk tssk sound, or a long kiss, audible enough to be heard from a distance.
NOT PERFECT YET? Don’t get discouraged – this is a game with a positive goal and a lifetime reward. Take your time – usually 3-5 practice runs before the lightbulb goes on. For some, 3-5 days are necessary. Not everyone learns at the same rate. It is all good! SECRET: When they get to you, but not jumping, bumping, sniffing or looking for a Chipmunk over your shoulder; make eye contact one more time and then drop a small treat at your feet. Why? That’s where you want them when you do get to say: COME HERE. Make your space The Happy Place.
DON’T DO AS I HAVE DONE: 1. Avoid practicing at dog park or dog beach or the pet store. 2. Avoid adding another command when they do come to you like sit, down, or forcing eye contact. Wait until this request is well established with a quick response time. Also, some dogs are so attached to us that they never leave our sides or take their eyes off of us – for that type, just as they are sniffing but with eyes on you – it’s OK to start your dance, because that may be all you’ll get from them NOT paying attention to you. These willing-to-please personalities are fast learners. Don’t be impatient with the slower learners. Wait for them to have their AHA moment – it’ll happen.
STICKY POINTS? Use Essences we suggest for thinking and training like Clematis Flower, Dandelion, or Chestnut Bud - or – call me! In the meantime: Play, Engage; Train!