How To Teach Your Dog To Come Every Time You Call Him

Dear Adam:

First of all, let me just say how much I have enjoyed your book. I cannot believe the difference in the behavior of my two dogs since I started using the pinch collars and your techniques. I accomplished in about 15 minutes what two obedience classes could not – I got both of my dogs walking on loose leads. Amazing. Also, both will do a good down stay around most distractions – we’re working on proofing now.

I have a 19 month old border collie cross and an 11 month old lab cross. Both are females and great dogs. My main problem at this point is having success with the recall command. I guess you could say that I feel I could use more detailed instruction here.

I’ve been working with a 20 foot line in a nearby park as outlined in your book. Things work fairly well when we’re alone (i.e. minimal distractions) but this park is also a fairly popular off-leash area and when other dogs arrive I usually give up and take the line off – otherwise it just becomes a tangled mess. How can I introduce “controlled” distractions and how should I go about getting my dog’s attention? I mean, at this point my dog becomes deaf when she comes across something on the ground that smells good, never mind another dog or person. I just want to be sure that I’m getting my timing right with the command and correction or praise. I’m hoping that you can help me with this – our Canadian exchange rate makes the cost of ordering your video rather prohibitive at this point! Just being honest.

One last thing – both dogs will walk on a loose leash when I walk them individually, but the younger one tends to want to walk ahead when I’ve got them out together. Is there a way to correct this, or do I need to walk them separately for a while longer? I guess that I’ve just asked a second question, so you can ignore this one if you want. I more concerned with the recall anyway.

Thanks so much. Your book has been so helpful and I’ve recommended it to several friends.


Dear Shannon:

First, if you take the long line off the dog, then you’re undoing everything you’ve just attempted to teach your dog. Now you have NO WAY of making the dog come back to you.

Remember… this isn’t rocket science. Training your dog to come back to you reliable can be boiled down to one simple piece of advice: “MAKE the dog come back to you, every time you call him… until he becomes conditioned to do it on his own.”

If you call the dog and cannot make him come… because he is not wearing the long line… THEN WHAT HAVE YOU JUST TAUGHT HIM??? You’ve taught him that he DOES NOT HAVE TO COME!

You are an excellent dog trainer. Whatever you end up teaching your dog (to come or not to come) … YOU have done an excellent job of doing it.

Now… does it matter if there are other dogs in the park, and the line gets tangled? No. (True, it’s a hassle… so you could use a 10′ line instead of a 30 foot line) But none of this should interfere with your ability to MAKE YOUR DOG COME when you call him (UNTIL HE BECOMES CONDITIONED TO COME ON HIS OWN).

If he ignores you when you tug on your leash, then this tells me that you are not tugging firmly enough to get his attention. Make sure that you’re getting slack in your line when you tug, and make sure that you’ve got the pinch collar fitted firmly enough.

As for walking two dogs at the same time… there are two things you can do:

1. Buy a coupler. This is a device that contains two 1 foot leashes that are attached together to your 6 foot leash. It kind of “Y”‘s off at the end, so that you can reach down and correct one dog but not the other. Most pet stores carry these devices. (Each 1 foot leash has it’s own harness snap.)

2. As the one dog begins to forge forward, give him the “Heel” command and give a sharp snap on the leash in a rearward direction. If the dog learns that every time he starts to forge ahead of the other dog that he will feel discomfort… quite simply… you’ll notice him stop doing that behavior.

And remember… get outside and have fun with your dogs!!!

That’s all for now, folks!

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