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Teaching "Come" Command

The following came from the VizslaTalk listserv. One of the members asked how to teach a reliable "come" or recall. Joyce Clark answered with this advice.

Does anybody have any suggestions for how I can make him as trustworthy in his own yard as he is everywhere else?
Thanks, Michel

Hi Michel,
I do have a small, but mighty, idea for a reliable recall (taken from Leslie Nelson's seminar and videos).  It teaches them to*love* the 'come'. First, choose a new recall signal (instead of 'come' you might say 'come now' or 'here').  Now call your
dog with your new signal when you are 110% sure he will come (i.e. someone holds him in the house while you go outside in the yard, or your in the kitchen with his food dish, etc).  When he gets to you praise him and give him treats (roast beef! or equivalent high value treats) for 30 full seconds....make a big fuss and tear the treats into dozens of little pieces and praise, scratch ears, etc.  This should be *the best thing* that has happened to him all day!  Now, repeat this three times a day using 3 different *best thing* rewards in 3 different scenarios....but, make sure you only use his new reliable recall signal only these 3 times a day.  You'll be tempted to use his new signal when he's out in the yard...don't do it.  Remember,  you must be willing to bet a bunch of money that this dog will come to you each time you use your new signal and you must be ready to reinforce him *heavily*.  Do this 3 times a day for a week.  Then write again and I'll give you the next step.  If this is done your dog will *race* to you.  The next steps will help proof it in varying situations. If you are a clicker or operant trainer then click or bridge just as your dog turns his head to you or takes his first step in your direction.  You can praise him all the way to you.  Also, be careful to pay attention to his body language when he gets to you...for example..if you rub his ears and he leans *away* from you then ear rubbing is *not reinforcing to him*. One last thing...if your dog hears 'come' then his fun ends he won't want to respond to 'come'.  I often call my dog to me and then send her back to play in the yard or then I'll whip out her frisbee and throw it across the yard, etc.  She never knows what wonderful things await her.  These things together have even helped pull her off of fence-fighting/barking to come to me.  Hope this helps.

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