Ask the Trainer with Nicole Berthiaume, CPDT-KA

Teacher’s Pet Dog Training

QuestionMy dog will listen to almost any other command I give, save for one: “Come.” I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement, so what would be the best technique to fix this?

AnswerCome” is one of (if not THE) most important obedience commands you can teach your dog, because it’s the one that could potentially save her life. If you want your dog to come bounding over to you in the park when you call her, the key is to make her think of “Come” as a fun game (not a gruff command) that she always wins!

Start by using movement, and your dog’s natural love of running and chasing, to create a positive association with the word “Come.” Always practice these games in a safe, enclosed space, or with your dog on a long 20 foot leash. Run away from your dog, saying her name in a happy, energetic tone of voice repeatedly to keep her moving toward you. When she is a foot or two away from you, turn to her, holding a special treat or favorite toy close to your body, and say the word “Come” clearly, one time. When she gets to you, give her LOTS of enthusiastic verbal praise and petting, then give her the treat or toy. (Try to keep her close to you for at least a few seconds while you pet and praise her, so she understands that she can’t just take the treat or toy and run away!)

Nicole BerthiaumeAbout the Trainer:

Nicole Berthiaume, CPDT-KA has worked as a professional dog trainer in the Los Angeles area since 2001. Over the years, Nicole has trained many therapy dogs, show dogs, and service puppies-in-training, as well as countless cherished family pets.

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