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Tweaking the 'Come' command

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My dog usually has excellent 'come' command, but recently, he has decided to continue sniffing when I call him. If he is not otherwise engaged (i.e. sniffing), he readily returns to me. It seems to be getting a bit worse little by little, so I want to address it now. [i will say that many people of pet dogs would be thrilled to have a dog that comes as well as he does, but I expect a bit more from my dog.]


I had a dog many years ago that gradually lost his reliable 'come' response and came to an unhappy ending. At the time, I did not realize that his response had eroded so significantly. Hindsight is 20-20. So I am a little sensitive about watching for and wanting a very reliable 'come'.


I would prefer not to call him to 'come' several times, although he will always come by the second or third time I call. If I start to walk him down, he sees it and immediately runs to me. As others here have suggested, after you walk a dog down (and I am assuming the dog is still at or near where they were when you called 'come'), you put on a leash and bring them back to where you were standing. So if my dog comes running back to me when I start to 'walk him down' (maybe 2 or 3 steps on my part), do I reward him or do I snap a leash on him, and then what? I don't want to reward him for ignoring my initial command, then coming only after he sees me start towards him, or do I?


Perhaps I am worrying about something insignificant, and if I am, just tell me. :D



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No, you're not worrying about something insignificant. I've known other people who have had tragic incidences because their dog's recall got sloppy. I would treat my dog like he didn't know the recall at all and start over again, every time he didn't come on the first call. But I know my dog would be mortified to be treated like a baby again, so I don't know if that would work for you or not.

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Every once in awhile my BC will continue as you say keep sniffing or keep digging (in the snow) for that yummy frozen horse poop.


For me that is not acceptable she needs to come immediately.


When I call and she doesn't respond immediately, I stop bend at the waist and point my finger to the ground right in front of me. (Wow, and we all thought border collies were fast.) It doesn't end there I make her sit and look in her eyes and place my hand gently under her head so she is looking at me and tell her come means come.


She understands. I use it from time to time as re-enforcement.


Good Luck !

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I'd really recommend Susan Garrets online recallers course next time she offers it. She lays out 30 games or so that progressively build on each other, and each game has level within the game. Building with distracrions and envieonments and such. Its fantastic stuff and its so nice that it is played out as a program in steps. Take it once and you have a great program for your current and all subsequent dogs to get a fanstastix recall.


For what you described, if he comes to you as you are going to get him, just clip the leash and say thank you an go for a little 2 minute leaah walk around. Be neuteal and 'matter if fact' .Go back to the distraction then, stand closer to your dog (long line if you need to, although honestly if he's safe I wouldn't bother, they know when they are leashed and when they are not, it does make a difference to how they listen) let him free to sniff it whatever, after a few moments, call him, hell probably come right away because he got it wrong last time, have a short party, use the premack principle send him back to sniff. Take a few steps back again, recall, party, send to sniff. Keep moving back and ping pong'in between you recaling party, and sending him back to sniff or whatever, randomizing the time between him being on 'free time' and you recaling back.


If he choose not to come right away anytime on the first call he has for fitted the reward. Come means 'come now, not when you feel like it, rewarding him meeting you half way will let him know he can afford to sniff a little while longer. Just move away for awhile, then recreate the scenario setting dog up to succeed.

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