"Here" or "Come"--Take Your Choice

By Jim & Phyllis Dobbs and Alice Woodyard

Stand still when you call the dog all the way into you.

Ask a dog trainer why he uses the command, "Here," instead of "Come," to call the dog to him? He'll tell you its obvious. The sound "here" comes from deep down in the stomach, and it's "much more authoritative-sounding" than the sound of "come."

It makes sense to you--that is, until you ask the trainer who uses the command, "Come," why he likes that word? That one's easy, he'll explain. The sound comes from the bottom of your throat, and therefore "it's more authoritative."

If you asked your dog, he'd tell you it doesn't make a dime's worth of difference to him which sound you use when you mean "come here to me." Either one sounds "authoritative" to him if he knows what you mean by it.

So pick the command you like, and stick with it. The important thing is convincing the dog to come all the way in on your first command, and then stay with you until released.

Training the Dog to Come

Training the dog to come and stay with you is easy with the aid of the Tri-Tronics collar. "Here" is just an extension of the last lesson you taught him. We called that lesson "invisible check-cording," and it was covered in the last issue of Retriever Journal.

Before you start training "Come" with the Tri-Tronics collar, your dog must already know a whistle or word that means he should come to you. He doesn't have to be reliable at responding, but he must at least know that you want him to come.

You also need to start with the right intensity level in the collar. Review the intensity selection procedure in the last issue of Retriever Journal if you have any question about this.

A New Picture

Remember, with invisible check-cording, as soon as the dog turned, he saw that you were now walking across the field in a new direction. The "picture" of you walking away, which he caught in his peripheral vision, told him what to do and where to go after turning. Most importantly, it told him that he was to continue hunting.

Now, since you want the dog to come all the way in and stay with you after you call him, change the "picture." Stand still when calling the dog. The dog will soon identify this different visual cue and will come in all the way, rather than just turning and continuing the hunt.

Press the button as you give your command to come. Release the button when the dog starts toward you. If he veers away after starting toward you, press the button and call him again. Repeat this every time the dog deviates from coming toward you. Be sure to stand still and not walk whenever you want the dog to come all the way in to you.

Obedience to the Command

When the dog is coming quickly all the way to you, stop using stimulation with the first command. However, to ensure that he stays obedient to that first command, be sure to use the collar whenever you must repeat your command.

If you started his collar work with a verbal command to come, but are going to use a whistle command in the field, now is the time to make sure the dog understands that he must obey both. If he disregards a come-in whistle, follow it up right away with a reinforced verbal command. In a future article, we'll talk more about teaching whistle commands through the training process called "chaining."

Control in the Field

Once the dog is reliable at coming in to you, you can use his understanding of this command to regain control if he starts going too deep on his pattern. Before he comes across the field in front of you, whistle him in toward you. As he adjusts his pattern toward you and gives you eye contact, move him out to the left or right with your hand signal.

If the dog leaves you before being released,let him get about ten feet away, press the button, and call him again.

Staying with You

When your dog delivers a bird, you want him to stay with you until released. Now is a good time to get him into this habit.

To teach this concept, call him in, and when he gets to you, praise him and let him know how great he is. Typically, the moment the praise stops, a dog will figure, "Party's over," and he'll take off and leave you. When he does, let him get about 10 feet away, press the button and call him again. If you are consistent in following this procedure, it won't take long and the dog will come directly in when called, and stay with you until released.

When Should the Dog Stop Wearing the Collar?

We are often asked how to "wean" a dog off the Remote Trainer. Quite simply, we don't "wean" a dog off the collar. "Weaning" means a gradual reduction in the times and occasions when the dog wears the collar. "Weaning" schedules teach a dog to differentiate as to whether the collar is on or not. When he learns the difference, he can become two dogs in one--a little angel with the collar on, a little devil without it!

The purpose of the collar is to provide consistency by allowing you to always reinforce a command if you must give it a second time. Therefore, the dog should always wear the collar in training so that you can be consistent with him--only through your consistency will he form the habit of obeying a command the first time it's given. When you see that the dog consistently obeys your commands the first time you give them, and you haven't had to use the collar to reinforce a command for about a month, you'll know your dog can run without the collar.

First Appeared in:
The Retriever Journal, Vol.1 no.5 June/Jul.'96

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