Puppy Practice for Come with Distractions
One of the best ways to proof a puppy’s “Come” command is to practice it around other puppies. Teach your puppy to come with distractions so that your adult dog will come around distractions.
Nova should get chances starting as a young puppy to play with other dogs while off-leash. These playtimes present Nova with the responsibility of using self-control and choosing to focus on the owner of her own accord. Treats may undoubtedly be used to start with for this exercise until Nova is showing prompt responses. The benefit of this training is that Nova will grow up learning to respond to her owner’s commands even amid play and fun with other dogs (a high-value distraction for a puppy to be sure).
Other benefits of these puppy playtimes for your puppy include:
- dog socialization,
- learning how to play,
- understanding how to read canine body language,
- learning to use canine body language,
- acquiring bite inhibition,
- gaining confidence,
- and gaining self-control.
An essential rule in these play sessions is that you must be involved. If you do not interact with your puppy while it is playing with other dogs, which is a great distraction for your puppy, he will learn to enjoy playtime with other dogs more than he enjoys being with you.
The first stage of training while around other puppies and dogs requires all but one dog to be leashed in the beginning. The dog off-leash is going to be practicing recalls. His lure, for now, will not be food but social attraction – his desire to be with you.
The other dogs can be leashed and sitting around the edge of the room or yard with their owners; your dog will be held at your place by a helper. You will walk to the other side of the room and call your dog. In this scenario, it should be easy for your puppy to come running because the other dogs are unable to interact and play with him at the moment. You will be the most exciting thing going on because he is not interacting with the other dogs (though they are a genuine presence). When he gets to you, you will become the biggest reward – all praise and attention for his obedience. Repeat this twice, leaving your puppy with a helper if he is prone to following you so you can get some distance away.
Problem-Solving the Initial Come with Distractions
If you have a puppy who is not easily motivated to come when you call from the other side of the room, consider calling your puppy as you run across the room. Chasing you will be far more fun and will still encourage the right behavior. Try to be in a happy, excited mood and become interesting: clap your hands, whistle, jog a little, or jump up and down to get your pup’s attention.
If your dog is let go and he wanders over to see another dog, have your helper move him away from the other dog and turn him to face you again.
The Next Level: Following
Puppies are natural followers, and you will want to take advantage of that while your puppy is young to teach a good come. The first rule in this practice is to keep walking. Choose your path and stick with it. Because your puppy is probably going to lag, then run ahead, then stop, and maybe jump on you if he’s an excitable one.
If you aren’t careful to keep the following game going on your rules, you’ll soon find that your dog has become the trainer. He will have taught you to follow him when he runs ahead, to stop when he does, to slow down when he does, and to get excited when he does.
Come, Sit, Collar Grab
This step in teaching Come helps you to gain control by asking your dog to sit and let you grab his collar before he gets his reward. The correct order for this exercise is “Come-Sit-Take the collar-Give the treat.” To start, have a helper hold your pup by his collar. Walk to the other end of the room and kneel or bend over. Call your puppy, and as he runs up to you, stand straight and ask him to sit. When he is seated, reach your empty hand to grab his collar and then give him the treat.
It is best if your puppy has had a basic introduction to the sit command first. However, you can also use a treat, the preferred reward for this stage, to lure the pup into a sit.
Using Playtime as a Reward
While your puppy is off-leash playing with the other dogs, take several opportunities to call him to you. Reward him with a treat when he gets to you. Then use a release word like “Go play!” and let him go back to playing again.
If your puppy ignores your call, rush up to him, and get a treat right on his nose, so he knows you have it. Call him excitedly again and rush backward, so he follows you. Give him a lot of praise when he does come.
Make sure you call your puppy mostly when you can allow him to play again. If you only call him during playtime when you are going to leave, he will quickly learn to avoid you in favor of the fun things happening around him.
As Nova gets older, she will respond faster. Her owner will not have to run and use a treat to her to get her attention. The life-reward of getting to play again is strong enough incentive. Nova will learn to come when called with increasing distractions, such as when the puppies are all playing off-leash. In future lessons, she can learn to heel off-leash through the room of puppies. Imagine how easy it will be for her to switch to heeling on leash around distractions. This is exactly what we want our therapy dogs to experience!
To learn how to make this training method work, check out Ian Dunbar’s How to Train a Puppy course! This course will give you a look into real training classes with the help of an experienced trainer. You will also get access to his books, which we highly recommend.
Check out what these graduates from one of Ian’s SIRIUS Puppy Classes can do while in a highly distracting environment!
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