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Teaching dog to come.

June 3rd, 2005, 11:34 AM
I am sure that this question has been asked and answered many times on this forum, but I can't seem to find it...... so I will ask again.

Our dog (male Shih Tzu) will be one on the 18th of June and for the life of me I can not get him to come when called. He used to return right away when we called out Oliver come, want a treat? But not anymore. Now he just thinks that it is a big game.

Now for the most part he is in our fenced in backyard, but at least once every other day he escapes out the front door when one of the kids (age 5 and 3) are going in and out. At it is a really frustrating to try to get him to come back.

So the big question is how do I get him to listen to me and come when called? Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

June 3rd, 2005, 01:34 PM
Hi Shelly. Have you taken him to obedience classes? This would be a great help, as "come" is one of the things they will help you teach your puppy while in a controlled, safe environment.

Teaching recall is something that takes a long time and lots of patience. You have to start small and work in small steps. Start with your dog on a 6ft leash. Put him in a sit/wait, go out a few feet and call him. If he comes, give him lots of praise (and a treat, if you treat train). If he doesn't come, give the leash a little tug, praise when he does come in to you. Keep working him like this until you're able to get to the end of the 6ft leash and he comes every time. Then switch to a longer rope. Keep working him the same way, going out further and further each time. If he starts showing signs of ignoring you, take a step back and shorten the distance. You have to work him every day. Teaching recall can take a very long time, depending on the dog, so please don't expect fantastic results in a month or two. ;)

In the mean time, new rules are: 1) the dog stays in the house when the kids are out back, and 2) everyone needs to check the gate before letting the dog out (my sister went through this when she first got her pup, and the kids learned these rules quicker than the dog learned recall :D ).

June 3rd, 2005, 01:41 PM
An important thing to remember is not to use the word come if you can not make the dog come. Every time you tell him to come and he doesn't he is learning that he doesn't have to. Don't say come and then chase him, that turns the command into a great game. Last rule, if you say come 50 times (which you shouldn't be doing according to rule one) and he finally comes - you are not allowed to get after him for ignoring you when you yelled the first 49 times. This will teach him that come gets him in trouble.

June 3rd, 2005, 01:46 PM
Writing4fun is right on the money!

Does Oliver get adequate exercise? My friend owns a Newfie that only gets 5 minutes walks 3 times a day. He's never off-leash and if he ever escapes he doesn't come back. But I can't blame him because he never gets any freedom!

For me, teaching my hound to come had a few parts: first I used a yummy food reward, second I made sure to be more interesting then any distraction and third, I would hide on him while he was off sniffing - now his recall is great!

June 3rd, 2005, 02:27 PM
Melissa, I didn't get your last part. How do you "hide on" Dodger? Where do you hide? :confused:

June 3rd, 2005, 03:43 PM
nymph - I hid anwhere I could but I should clarify that I didn't always hide and then ask Dodger to come, mostly I let him find me on his own.
Anway, in the house I would hide in another room, under the bed, in the bath tub; on an on-leash walk I would dash behind a tree or a pillar. Dodger would get really upset if he couldn't find me or if I kept changing my hidding spots!
When he was off-leash in the woods, I would let him get distarcted and then I would take off and hide.

Doing this also helped me to to teach him the attention command because he had already learned that it was good to pay attention to me.

The purpose of this was just to make coming a game, to get his play drive going and make ME more exciting! Because he thinks I am so unpredictable now, he rarely lets me out of his sight (even off-leash - a major bonus for a scenthound). It made learning to come fun for Dodger.

Understand? This hide-and-seek game should not replace more formal training but it was a great game for Dodger!

June 4th, 2005, 12:28 AM
Thanks for the quick replies. I had forgotten how fast people around here are.

Writing4Fun: No we have not been to obedience class yet. We live in a small town and the class is only offered twice a year. I am hoping to get myself and Oliver enrolled in the next one.

LavenderRott: Thanks for the tip An important thing to remember is not to use the word come if you can not make the dog come. It is something that I had never thought of before. I will definitely try my hardest to remember that.

Lissa: Oh yes Oliver gets plenty of exercise. He gets pooped out at least three times a day. The big joke around here is "No kids leave Oliver alone now, he needs his nap."

Thanks again,
Shelly and her stubborn Shih Tzu

June 4th, 2005, 11:11 AM
Coming to you is about respecting your word - it is not a game. Come is the most important instruction there is as it can save his life. It can take minutes to teach but longer (not months) to practice and reinforce.
Everytime you ask him to come and he doesn't he is challenging you. Are you going to make me come? So, because he is in the habit of making it a game and blowing you off - he goes back on the leash until he shows us he can be trusted. The leash is your tool to empower your words.
Here is our version of the come.
Come = come straight to you, sit in front of you and look you in the eyes waiting for the next direction.
You start with the dog in the house on a 6 foot leash. You call him to 'come' in a super happy tone (the party is over here - attitude), if he ignores you you say 'no' in a firm, sharp tone, give a leash correction and when he looks at you you get happy again and invite him in. You might have to correct his bad choice a few times before he decides to cooperate. He should happily come to you as you vaccum him in with your happy and loving tone.
If he veers from any of this - you continue facing him and back away with a sharp (not loud) "NO" and a slight leash correction. He should look at you and then you get super happy and ask for the 'come' again in a very happy tone. The idea is that you pressure him for making the wrong choice - not comming or veering off - and reward him for any effort in the right direction. Even if his eyes leave you (if his eyes are not on you neither is his brain), then you correct him, but the very second he is looking at you again you have to get happy. You are telling him that the best place to be is with you and any other choice will be pressured. You might even interupt yourself as you change from correction to reward and correction and reward again. You have to be able to respond as quickly as he changes his mind. When he is sitting in front of you and looking in your eyes then you can release him with lots of enthusiasm. ALL of this is done on the leash to empower your word - but as soon as he is sensitive enough to respond to just your word then you are starting to get off leash - which can happen in minutes not days.
Each step in the teaching of any cooperative action must be done in successful sequences. From a good 'come', move onto the 'come' with distractions - introduce a toy. Put him into a sit-stay and toss the toy a few feet away. Release him to it and call him back. Using the pressure and release methods to advise him on his decisions. As you are successful, put him on a longer leash and throw the toy further away. Help him to understand that the toy is part of the fun, but that his playing "keep away" will stop the fun and cause you to pressure his poor choices. Now move outside with this game, and begin again with shorter distances working towards longer distances as he earns them.

June 4th, 2005, 12:45 PM
Wow tenderfoot that was quite the answer, THANK-YOU. I think you have answered any possible questions that I may have had.