TRAINING PUPPIES: COME, WAIT, AND FOLLOW
How can I get my puppy to "come" when called?
Teaching a puppy to "come" on command is a very difficult but important task.
Start early because a puppy that will come when called is safer! In addition,
most young puppies do not like to stray too far from their owners. So all it
takes is a kneeling owner and a happy "come" command and your puppy may willingly
approach (without the need for any food or toy prompt). Similarly most young
puppies will automatically come and follow as you walk away. However, by 3 to
4 months of age, as puppies become a little more independent and exploratory,
more appealing rewards may be needed. The two most important rules about teaching
your puppy to come to you is to set up the puppy for success (so that you never
fail) and that each training session is simple, fun and pleasurable. NEVER CALL
YOUR PUPPY TO YOU IN ORDER TO PUNISH IT!
Start by backing away from your puppy 1-3 feet and wiggle a food treat or
a favored toy (prompt) in front of its nose. At the same time say the puppy's
name and "come". Use a happy inviting tone of voice. When your puppy comes to
you, praise it lavishly and give the treat. Then repeat. Start by only moving
short distances, then gradually have the puppy come further to reach you. Reinforce
this task by calling your puppy over several times a day, giving a pat or a
food treat and sending it on its way. Try to avoid only calling the puppy to
you to bring it inside, to put it in its cage or otherwise end with something
fun. Be sure to spend time calling the puppy over and then releasing it, this
will help the puppy learn that by coming to you, good things happen. Remember
it is critical to succeed with every training session. Stay close, make certain
that there are no distractions and proceed slowly.
Over time, the puppy should be very slowly taught to come from progressively
further distances and in environments with a greater number of distractions.
If there is any chance that the puppy might escape or disobey, have the puppy
wear a long remote lead (which can be left dangling as the puppy wanders and
investigates). Then if the puppy does not immediately obey the "come" command,
a gentle tug of the lead can be used to get the puppy's attention, and the command
repeated in an upbeat, happy voice (along with a food or toy prompt). This should
help to ensure that the "come" command is both successful and rewarding for
How can I teach my new puppy to wait or follow?
Teaching a puppy to wait or follow are extensions of the other tasks you should
teach. To teach your puppy to follow at your side (heel), use a food treat,
place it by your side at puppy nose height and entice the puppy both vocally
and with the food to "heel". As the puppy follows its nose to stay near the
treat, it will also be learning to heel.
For dogs that constantly walk ahead or pull, teaching your dog to follow should
begin where there are few distractions, such as in your back garden. Using a
harness rather than lead and collar is often useful. Begin with a "sit-stay"
command and give a reward. Start to walk forward and encourage your dog to follow
or heel as above, using a food reward held by your thigh. Be certain to allow
only a few inches of slack on the lead so that if your dog tries to run past
you, you can pull up and forward on the lead so that the puppy returns to your
side. Once back in the proper position (by your side for heel or behind you
for follow), provide a little slack in the lead and begin to walk forward again.
Continue walking with verbal reinforcement and occasional food rewards given
as the dog follows. Each time the dog begins to pass you or pull ahead, pull
up and forward on the lead, and release as the dog backs up. Alternatively walk
suddenly in a different direction without any warning. If you keep switching
direction, whenever the dog starts to surge ahead, it soon learns that it can't
predict where you are going and so focuses on you the whole time. If it is doing
this it is not pulling and so the problem is resolved. If the dog "puts on the
brakes" and will not follow, all you need to do is release the tension and verbally
encourage the dog to follow. Once you have the dog successfully heeling in the
garden with no distractions, you can proceed to the front garden and the street,
at first with no distractions, until good control is achieved.
How can I teach the dog to wait?
Although much the same as "stay", this command is important for the dog that
might otherwise bound out the front door, lunge forward to greet people and
other dogs, or run across a busy street. Begin with "sit-stay" training, until
the dog responds well in situations where there are few distractions such as
indoors or in your backyard. Next, find a situation where the dog might try
to pull ahead, such as at the front door, so that you can begin to teach the
wait command. Training sessions should begin when there are no external stimuli
outdoors (other dogs, people) that might increase your dog's tendency to run
out the door. Use a lead or lead and head collar to ensure control. Begin with
a "sit-stay" by the front door. While standing between your dog and the door,
and with only a few inches of slack on the lead, give the wait command and open
the door. If the dog remains in place for a few seconds, begin to walk out of
the door and allow your dog to follow. Then repeat, with longer waits at each
training session. If however, when you open the door or begin to walk out, your
dog runs ahead of you, you should pull up on the lead, have your dog sit. Then
release the tension, give the wait command and repeat until successful. Once
your dog will successfully wait for a few seconds and follow you out of the
door, gradually increase the waiting time, and then try with distractions (dogs
or people on the sidewalk). This training should also be tried as you walk across
the street, or before your dog is allowed to greet new people or the dogs that
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