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Come Puppy Come!

By Frank and Carol Winnert

Come Puppy, Come! may be the most important lesson you ever teach the new canine member of your family, as it could save its life. A really consistent response to the command can remove the dog from dangerous circumstances, such as oncoming cars or a threatening dog.

This lesson needs to be taught at a very early age, and probably is most easily learned at that point in the puppys development. Begin as soon as the puppy begins tottering around. Its a good time to teach him his name as well as to come. Sit on the floor and call the puppy in a warm and welcoming manner. If he doesn't come at once, lure him with a small treat of food. And, when he arrives in front of you, offer immediate hugs and lots of praise. Make every trip to you a positive reinforcement of the command.

Be sure that the puppy responds EVERY time you give the command. If he chooses to ignore you, first try the food lure and as a last resort, physically have someone bring him to you. Consistency is the important factor. He needs to understand that COME means every time!NEVER use negative reinforcement when training a puppy to come. If he has done something naughty, carry him to the scene, but don't call him and then punish him when he comes. Hell soon learn that COME can be negative.

Play the "COME" game on a consistent basis, but remember that your puppy has a very short attention span. A "come" or two is enough at any one time, so he doesn't lose interest in the game. Make sure that he is successful each and every time he responds to your command. Hugs and kisses work very well with puppies, and they are so rewarding to you too.

Soon your puppy will be a youngster interested in moving out and exploring the world. Controlling him will be much easier if he has learned his "come" well. With the exciting lure of the wide outdoors, you will need to reinforce your command many times. At first, put a long line on the puppy. Let him wander and snoop a while and then call him in your warmest and most welcome manner. Don't be surprised if your wonderfully trained puppy from the house refuses to come when he has found the wonderful, enticing smells of the whole outdoors to distract him. But, DO insist that he come when called. A gentle reeling of the rope will probably be necessary. Do it every time. One slip-up gives him the message that "come" is an arbitrary command.

It will probably be some time before your puppy can be trusted to respond absolutely reliably to your "come" command. Don't give him the opportunity to disobey. They learn that lesson all too easily. Keep him on a line dragging behind him so that you can control him even though he thinks he is running free.

Of course, there is no absolute certainty that a dog will always respond to your command. There would be far fewer accidents if we could count on their responding every time. BUT, you can save yourself a lot of heartache and just plain aggravation by teaching your puppy that he MUST COME.

Please note, the above system works with older dogs too! You just need to have more patience and practice longer!


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