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Come Command

But there are many Ridgebacks and their owners who think it is! The problem with the command “COME” is that it’s often used when your RR is chasing after something he shouldn’t be. It’s very hard to overcome 4,000 years of that instinct to chase. So, while your RR may not come each and every time you call him, you can teach him to come 90% of the time. There are a few ground rules to follow in teaching a reliable COME [often referred to as “recall”].

First: Never call your dog to you in order to punish him. I cannot emphasize this enough. Why should your dog come to you if he thinks he’s going to be punished? Would you come if you thought you might get scolded or worse? I don’t think so! If your dog commits some major transgression, you go to the dog…do not call him to you to be punished! It’s also a good idea not to call your RR to you to do something to him that he hates, such as giving him a bath, or trimming nails. Again, you go to the dog.

Second: Insist that when you give the command COME, your dog comes every time. It’s one thing to call your dog casually to go to bed for the night or to go outside to relieve himself. But when you give the command COME, you need to insist that he comes, even if you have to physically bring the dog to the spot you were standing in; do not let him disobey the command.

Third: Always praise your dog for coming to you, especially if you have to physically make him come to where you are. Your RR should think that coming to you is the best thing in the world, and should always get lots of praise for doing so.

PLAY GAMES
It’s easiest to teach your RR to come when he’s a puppy. Puppies want to be with their hu- mans; they look to you as their leader, and will naturally follow you. Use this! Make coming to you a game. This can work with adult dogs, too, if they’re willing to play. Some adults will, some won’t; it depends on the dog.
Catch me if you can: One game to play is “chase.” You can do this in the house or in a fenced area. Run awy from your RR, and call him as you run. “Puppy, come! Come, puppy! etc. Clap your hands, slap your thighs, do whatever you must to make your puppy follow you. Then stop, and when he gets to you, praise him lavishly. Tell him he’s the best puppy in the whole world! Almost all puppies will play this game. In the house, you can also call the puppy in the same manner, and then hide. When he finds you, do the same thing—give him lots of praise. Give the command COME! with your voice rising at the end. You want your dog to think that COME! is a wonderful thing!
Puppy in the middle: For this, you’ll need another family member, or a willing friend. Sit about six to 10 feet apart with your legs spread eagle. One of you holds the puppy and the other person calls him. As soon as the puppy goes to the other person and is praised and pet- ted, the other person calls the puppy. Do this two or three times, but quit before the puppy gets tired (or bored) and loses interest.
With an adult you can modify the game a bit. Put two light lines (I use a clothes line) on your RR’s collar. (At this point, use a regular buckle collar, not a training collar.) Each of you stand about 15 feed apart holding one of the light lines. Use a favorite dog treat, if necessary. Then, one of you call the dog and gently pull him toward you, if needed. If he puts up too much resistance and fights the line, walk up to him, gently take the collar and walk backwards to your original position taking him with you, while saying, “[dog’s name] COME, good dog, COME! [dog’s name].” When you get to your original spot, give him lots of praise and a treat. Then have the other person do the same thing. Do this twice, then quit. Continue playing COME games even as you advance to more formal training. It reinforces the command, and both you and your RR will have fun! six feet. Say your dog’s name and COME! as your dog gets to his feet, move backwards a couple of feet and stop. When your dog comes to you, do as before—give him lots of praise. Do this exercise a couple of times and end the session for the day. Play with your dog; give him a belly rub, whatever . Y ou want him to  enjoy these  special times with you. If  he  doesn’ t understand what you want right away, that’s okay, you can try again tomorrow, or the next day. He will respond, it just may take a while.

OFF LEAD?  YOU CAN DO IT!
After a few sessions of the different COME games, your RR will know what the word COME! means. Now, make the training a little more formal. Use at least a six-foot leash and your training collar. Sit your dog and tell him to stay, then back away to the end of the leash. (Do not put any tension on it.) Then say “[dog’s name] COME!” and move backwards quickly, about eight to 10 feet. Your dog should get up and follow you almost immediately. If not, as you step backwards, he’ll get a correction/tug on the collar. When he gets to you, give him praise, then have him sit in front of you and give him more praise. Do this several times and then quit. The next time you do this, use a light line and increase the distance between you. Continue to increase the distance, doing so gradu- ally, and slowly add some distractions, such as another dog in the area. When your RR comes to you without you having to run backwards, or give a correction, then you’re ready to try COME! off lead.
For off lead, you need to be in an enclosed area, whether in the house or the yard. Start with a fairly small area and be sure there are few distractions. Sit your RR and back up about six feet. Say your dog’s name and COME! as your dog gets to his feet, move backwards a couple of feet and stop. When your dog comes to you, do as before—give him lots of praise. Do this exercise a coupld of times and end the session for the day. Play with your dog; give him a belly rub, whatever. You want him to enjoy these special times with you. If he doesn’t understand what you want right away, that’s okay, you can try again tomorrow, or the next day. He will respond, it just may take a while.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT…well almost!
COME is a good exercise to practice in a training group. Training classes or groups offer lots of distractions and your RR will learn he must focus on you and come when you call him. Often times, groups will play a game similar to the kids’ game “Red Rover.” Remember? “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Timmy right over!” There would be two lines of kids with hands linked, and the child who was called would run at the opposite line and try to break through. With dogs, the handlers sit them in a line, have them all stay, and then walk about 20 feet away. Each dog is called in random order and must go to his handler while the rest of the dogs remain sitting. It’s a great way to work on both the STAY and COME exercise, and it’s fun for both handlers and dogs.
Will your RR come each and every time he’s called? Probably not. But, the more you practice, the more you make coming to you fun, the more distractions you can add and still have your RR come to you, the greater the chances are that he will.
So, let’s start playing!

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