02. Teaching your dog to come

posted Aug 16, 2011, 12:02 PM by Alder Brittanys   [ updated Oct 3, 2011, 8:12 PM ]
    A pointing dog would rather follow her nose than listen with her ears and teaching a reliable recall to a Brittany can be a challenge.  Remember that you got a pointing dog because they're independent and don't micromanage the dog or call her in to you every 5 minutes.  Overuse of your recall command will either teach your dog to ignore you or will take away some of her independence.  Try to call your dog in only when you have her attention, do it as little as possible when she's hunting and make sure the experience of coming to you is always a positive one.

     Start with your puppy on a leash and with very special treats in your hand.  Hot dogs are always popular.  Say the command once, give a tug on the leash to get the puppy started to you, then use a high excited voice and the treats to get her the rest of the way.  Back away from the pup as she comes to you so that she has to come up to you quickly.  Also, hold the treats against your knees so that she has to come all the way to you.  A few more pointers:
  • The dog should be rewarded with a favorite treat every time she comes to you when called.  Don't call your puppy if you don't have a treat in your hand.
  • Never repeat the command.  If the dog doesn't get it the first time, enforce it with the leash, then praise her when she does it right.
  • Work for several weeks with treats and the dog on a leash until the command is reliable.
  • Use a longer and longer leash until your dog is reliable at a distance.
  • Before you try off-leash, use the e-collar and the leash together. 
  • When you move off-leash, use the e-collar just as you would the leash - to enforce the command.  Remember, the collar is not a replacement for treats and praise.  Even if she only came to you because you touched her with the collar or reeled her in on the leash, she still gets treats and lots of praise when she gets to you.
  • Never let your dog run loose without the e-collar on.
  • Don't discipline a dog who comes to you. Even if that dog has been running all over the county, crossing roads, bumping birds and chasing deer for an hour while you yelled yourself hoarse, if she comes to you it's only praise.  You need to correct her while she's doing those bad things, not when she's done.  Otherwise, all she'll learn is that there are no consequenses as long as I keep being bad but going back to my owner means I'm going to get in trouble.


    Still not working?

  • Your dog may be intimidated coming to you.  If you think that's a problem, the tips below will help (these tips are also great for getting a dog who doesn't know you to come to you.  As they're all submissive gestures, however, only do this if you're confident the dog is not aggressive.)
    • Remove your hat and sunglasses.
    • Get upwind of the dog with a good treat in your hand.
    • Don't make eye contact - keep your head and eyes down at the ground.
    • Don't square your shoulders to the dog, crouch down at an angle.
    • Get down low to the ground - your eyes should be lower than the dog's.
    • Use a high-pitched excited voice or a soft whisper.  Never a low voice.  
    • Don't smile or do anything else that shows your teeth.
    • Let the dog come all the way to you - don't lunge after the dog.
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