Puppy Come!

What is it? 

Your dog bops his nose against the flat palm of your hand.

Why is it an important skill? 

It’s a nice easy behavior that is useful for so many things. We can use it to teach our puppy to follow our hand through a crowd, or onto a weighing scale at the vet’s, or to teach tricks to our dogs, to touch objects; or to give them something concrete but easy to do if they are feeling anxious about something.

How to teach it?

  1. Hold your hand with an open palm facing your dog about 1 inch away from his nose. Dogs are curious, so will move their noses towards your hand, and bop it. Mark (click or say “yes”) the instant his nose touches your hand and give him a treat.
  2. Repeat many times, until your dog is confidently touching your hand.
  3. Add the cue “Touch” once his nose-bopping-your-hand behavior becomes predictable.
  4. Now start to move your hand slightly further away from your dog’s nose e.g. 2 – 3 inches. Each time, say the cue as you present your hand, then mark and reward him for bopping your hand with his nose.
  5. Now start to hold the palm of your hand slightly below, slightly to the left, slightly to the right, or slightly above his nose while cueing “Touch”. Mark and reward all correct touches.
  6. Gradually start to increase the distance your puppy must move to touch your hand.

What is it? 

Your emergency cue. It’s not the same as “come”, but should have a special word attached to it that you only use when you really want your dog to immediately drop everything that he’s doing and come charging to you. It’s not a burnt-out word like “come” that your dog ignores because he has learnt that is has no value for him. It’s precious – use it deliberately and sparingly.

Why is it an important skill? 

It’s the most important cue your dog will ever learn! It will remain in training for the rest of your dog’s life – which means that for the rest of your dog’s life, he will be getting treats for it!

The Five Rules of Recall:

  1. Never call your dog for anything unpleasant such as nail clipping, bathing or having his leash clipped on to go home from the park. In short anything that might give him pause the next time you call him.
  2. Never call your dog if you are not sure he will come. All recalls should be successful recalls. Work at your dog’s level. If he has a kindergarten recall, don’t give him a graduate assignment like being called away from a cat in a tree.
  3. If you call your dog and he doesn’t come, you must make it happen. Run over to him and put a treat in front of his nose, backing up as you get his attention so he follows you.
  4. Never repeat the cue. Resist the urge to call over and over and over. It only teaches your dog to tune out the cue. Call once and, if necessary, use rule 3. Make the recall happen.
  5. Fabulous rewards get fabulous recalls. If you want your dog to stop whatever interesting doggie thing he is doing and come running to you, make it worth his while. Use extra yummy treats—no dry biscuits here! —or a well-thrown ball, if that is your dog’s fancy. Give a minimum of 5 treats for every single recall.

How to teach the “The Recall Game”:

  1. Two people stand 3 feet apart. The first person calls the puppy to her - no name, no “here” cues – just any happy noise you can think of such as “pup pup puppeee”.
  2. As soon as the dog comes to you, make a fuss and give him 5 treats, one after the other.
  3. Then ignore the dog – look up at the ceiling and fold your arms.
  4. Now the other person starts to call the dog in the same way. Continue in this round-robin fashion until the dog is happily looking to the next person to call him over. Gradually increase the distance between the two people.
Brendan Edmonds