By Cherie Maitland, Trainer and Behavior Specialist at Our Furry Friends Training Center

    The recall command, “Lassie, come” is such an important command that it's important to set up training scenarios to train this
    command, rather than just using it when you really need it without prior practice. Let’s first start by building a good foundation for your dog
    coming to you willingly and even happily. Be sure to call your dog to you for something she enjoys like a walk, dinner, belly rubs, treats,
    frisbee. If it is for something unpleasant go get her, give her a treat, play with her for a couple of minutes. Then, oh by the way as long as
    you’re here it’s time for a bath. Remove the distasteful event from her approach to you or yours to her. Also in the beginning, do not call
    her away from something she loves, such as playing with other dogs, digging, running free in the back yard etc., (this comes later.)
    Practice calling your dog to you in the house at close distances with no distractions, at mealtime or for other positive reasons. You want
    your voice to mean to her, “Hey Lassie, I’ve got your most favorite toy/treat/friend over here - come see!” Praise her as she is
    approaching, (she’s already decided to come,) rather than waiting until she gets to you. Be careful about asking too much of her when
    she arrives - like sit, down, stay - just reward her. In the beginning, you’ll need to be an enthusiastic actor and act like she is doing an
    amazing thing every time she approaches you.
    Try the recall hide n’ seek game with 1 or 2 other friends/family members in the house or in the yard if it's fenced. Give each person
    some yummy treats such as cheese, roast beef, hot dog pieces. Better to give 5 small morsels than 1 big piece each time your dog gets
    to you. After she gets the hang of it, hide in a different place after she is on her way to the next person. Make it fun!

    Slowly increase the distance from your dog, when you call her. At other times, slowly add more distractions. And in other sessions,
    practice in different locations. If you are unsure of your dog’s ability or compliance at first, let her drag a long line, so if you have to, you
    can step on it if she decides to ignore you. You don’t want your dog to learn that ignoring you and going off the other way works. In dog
    training, we never want commands to be optional. Practice in short sessions and slowly add more challenging scenarios. And
    Lassie will learn how to come home every time!!

    Please contact me for further information on this or on any other training and obedience issues. You can call me at
    209-304-5139 or 530-622-PUPS.
    E-mail to:  AsktheTrainer@DOG-B-GOOD.com or by mail at PO Box 97, Pine Grove, CA 95665

    NEXT STEP is setting up TRAINING SCENARIOS taking into account:


    This is one of the most common questions I hear. It’s best to first practice in
    situations where your dog pulls the least, perhaps walking around the yard or even in
    a large room in the house, rather than going towards a beloved place. “Lure and
    reward” training is one approach to use. Use great-smelling treats (like dried liver,
    chicken, hot dog pieces, not just a dry biscuit,) in your closed hand to lure your dog
    into position by your side. Say “yes” and give a treat. At almost every moment your
    dog is walking without pulling, use this technique. A trick is to do this when he is very
    hungry and motivated to earn the food rewards that you have. Praise him often so
    he will realize what is correct and it will help keep his attention on you.  Often
    we tend to forget to notice and reward the good behavior and we pay attention to
    the bad. Your attention in and of itself is very reinforcing to dogs. And what we
    reinforce will increase.
    The other thing you can do is walk backwards away from the direction your dog is
    pulling at the moment the leash goes tight. The timing is important - as the leash
    tightens and as you start to backup, say ”too bad.” This tells your dog that he
    loses out on where and what he is trying to go towards as soon as he pulls.  
    As soon as the leash is slack again and your dog has turned his attention back to
    you, praise your dog and continue to walk forward in your original direction. Your
    quick timing is important, so that your dog can begin to understand which behavior
    gets him what he wants.

    Show your dog that the only way you and he go forward is with slack on the leash.
    The first several times you practice, don’t plan on getting anywhere fast, you’ll be
    going backwards most of the time at first. Keep sessions short and sweet and end
    on a good note. You’ll see your clarity, good timing and determination payoff as it
    dawns on your dog how he can get what he wants. Headcollars like the Gentle
    Leader and Halti are extremely helpful too.

    Please contact me for further information on this or on any other training
    and obedience issues. You can call me at 209-304-5139 or 530-622-PUPS.

    E-mail to:  AsktheTrainer@DOG-B-GOOD.com or by mail at PO Box 97, Pine
    Grove, CA 95665

My dog pulls on the leash so hard
that my shoulder starts hurting.
How do I teach my dog to stop?
Training With Respect & Understanding