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  • Liz MacHaffie

Come: Intermediate


Bring your dog's recall to the next level with an automatic sit, hold until release, and working in distraction!


Adding Distractions​


Here's how to help your dog learn to come when called, even when there are other exciting things around!

  • Use a long, light leash for all recalls while you're training distractions. This helps prevent her from accessing the reward and blowing you off. You can also use it to remove her from a reward if needed.

  • Choose or place a distraction in the environment. It could be food, a toy, a person, or anything else your dog is interested in. (Start with mild distractions, work your way up to bigger ones.)

  • Allow your dog to start to approach it. Call her while the leash is slack (ideally) and then follow with “puppy puppy puppy”!

  • As soon as she turns to look at you, mark with “yes” and praise her as she comes to you.

  • Give her more treats for faster, better responses and fewer (maybe even just one) for slower responses.

  • Your goal is to have your dog turn to you by the time you finish saying "Name, come, puppy puppy puppy!". This is a success!

  • If you can’t get her to respond after 5-7 seconds, take a break, walk her away from the distraction, and try again. Count this as a mistake.

  • If she makes a mistake twice in a row, make it easier for her. Try being closer to her when you call or making the distraction less exciting

  • Practice with one or two different distractions per session. Try and use lots of different distractions. Your treats should always be as good as or better than the distraction!

  • Once your dog is doing well with a leash attached to her, you can graduate to recalling with the distraction behind a barrier (like a pet gate, pen, or fence, or even a see-through container) while she is off leash. Repeat as above.

  • Finally, it’s time to take the training wheels off! Practice your recalls with no leash and no barrier.

  • Remember to reward higher level distractions with better rewards!


Adding an Auto Sit


​This is super handy for making sure you can catch your dog in the future and that she’s less likely to do a “drive by” when you call her!

  • Call your dog. When she is almost to you, slightly raise your hands toward your chest. Do not say anything, just wait.

  • Mark “yes” and reward when your dog sits.

  • Continue to mark “yes” and reward for 1-5 rewards in a row, then release with “okay”. (If she gets up before you say okay, call her back and encourage her to sit again.)

  • As she learns to stay in place until released, you can extend the amount of time between treats! This is what helps her learn to stay for longer.

  • Hooray! Once you’ve gotten here, you’ve taught your dog to come straight to you, sit automatically, and stay until you release her!


Tips & Troubleshooting


  • Reward nearly 100% of the time.

  • Cheer your pup on! Help her maintain her energy and motivation after she starts running to you by praising her enthusiastically.

  • Never call your dog with “come” for something she doesn’t like. (For example, don't call her from playing outdoors in the yard and the shut the door and ignore her. Don't call her and then put her in her crate.) This will accidentally punish her and really weaken her response. Either go get her or encourage her to you with other words.

  • Don’t start off-leash work until you would bet $100 that your dog will come when called. That’s how reliable she needs to be before you start

  • Throw in easy repetitions to keep your dog motivated and willing to work! Working on recalling from 30 feet away? Throw in a rep at 5 feet or 10 feet!


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