“Come” is a command every puppy needs respect. Here again, control is essential. When you say “Come,” the puppy must have no alternative. Consistency in your conditioning is imperative, for once the puppy realizes he does not have to come, your troubles begin! The come is taught using a puppy collar and a twenty-five-foot line.
1. When you first put your puppy out in the yard on his line, the very first time, allow him to explore until he seems to be getting tired.
2. At that point, kneel and say “Come” and give the line a small, sharp tug. The tug will turn the puppy toward you. He may then:
a) Come – If he does this, really love, cuddle and praise him. Pick him up and carry him into the house and give him a tiny tidbit.
b) Turn and sit – If he does this, continue to give gentle little tugs, along with lots of verbal encouragement, until he gets to you. Then praise as if he had come on his own.
c) Buck and holler at the end of the line – If he does this, sit quietly until he quits (sometimes it takes a while). Then give another “Come” and tug the line again. Repeat – even if it takes fifty waits, fifty “comes,” and fifty tugs. When he reaches you, love him and praise him as if he had come on the first call, on his own.
d) Sulk, roll over on his back, wrap his feet around the line and say, “No way, Jose!” – If he does this, stay calm, wait until he freezes in some position, then repeat “come,” and give a tug on the line. If he repeats his previous actions, repeat yours. When he finally comes to you, reward him and praise him as if he had come the first time. As you pick your puppy up and carry him into the house, you may tell him anything as long as your voice is happy – you have won – no matter how long it has taken you!
Always remember, the only way you can lose a come battle is to lose your temper. Once you do that the puppy has won because you have given him something to react to. He will know he has upset you and that little piece of information will get stored in his memory bank. So, stay cool!
3. Take the puppy on a twenty-minute walk. Let him go to the end of the line and sniff and snuffle to his heart’s content.
4. Four times during that walk – when he is on the end of the line – say “Come” and snap the line toward you and run away from the puppy. When he “catches” up with you, get down to his level and love him, praise him and reward him!
5. Try to take another walk, later on in the day, in a different area and repeat the four calls.
If you use these exercises on the come daily, both at home and on walks, the puppy will grow up knowing that “come” means a problem for him when he remains where he is and does not come, and that safety and praise are his when he does come. Later on, when he is truly free to choose, if you have been consistent, he will choose you.