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Two dogs playing tug with owner.

How to teach a dog to come?

Teaching a Dog to Come

Do not underestimate the “Anti-Cue” in dog Training. It is key to developing a perfect ‘Drop It’ and “Getting a Dog to Come”. At Dogletics I train your dog to ask for permission. I do not use punishment nor do I restrict or manage their behavior. Instead I make the behavior the only positive choice for them. When I say only positive I do not mean others are negative but they are neutral choices in that they gain nothing by making them.  By limiting our dog’s choices we set them up for success. 

Why Does Choice Matter in Teaching A Dog To Come?

 Common advice in achieving a solid “come to me” is to have another toy or treat to entice to the dog. This encourages the dog to lose interest through redirection. Redirection means asking for a desired behavior though luring which hinges on a dog making a choice: between what they have & what you have. 

But...Luring doesn't always work

A dog chasing a squirrel with a very determined face
Imagine doing redirect with a squirrel and a treat. Your dog is going to ignore the redirect and focus on the squirrel.

The photo with the squirrel teaches us that redirect fails when we mismatch a treat with prey.  Asking your dog to choose the lesser value item would be like asking you to leave your cushy job for a lower paying job with less benefits? 


So…Does that mean I just need a better offer?

-NO, because you never know what your dog is going to value…and many times high value treats do not fare well to bunnies and squirrels. 

 This is where the anti-cue comes into play because the anti-cue teaches the dog not to value one over the other. BUT instead offers them a chance to have both. 

Teaching a Dog To Come

The anti-cue for teaching a dog to come is “Replay”, “Go”, “Go Play” or any variant.  Follow 4 simple steps:

  1. Start off easy. In your yard with no distractions
  2. Call your dog to come to you
  3. Give him a reward
  4. Tell him to go back to what he was doing “Go play”, “Free”, Re-play”.
    1. By allowing him to go back:
      1. He does not weigh his options and:
      2. He stop’s seeing come as bad thing.

***Many times owners only use come when they want their dog to stop having fun. That gives the dog incentive to ignore you***

Tips For Teaching "Come"

  1. Use high value treats such as left-over chicken, hot dogs, tuna, boiled egg.
  2. Use a specific word or cue for recall.
    1. “Come” or the dog’s name tends to be used to often.
  3. Use the same tone fluctuation
  4. Increase distraction difficulty  by doing it mid-play, or mid-sniff
  5. Increase location difficulty by practicing at dog parks, friends houses, Petsmart, or hiking trials. 
Play Video

Loki knows “coming to me” does not mean he has to stop playing. 

It is important to note that The Anti-Cue is for training only and should not be used in dangerous situations. A dog running towards the highway would not get an anti-cue. The purpose of the anti-cue is to get our dogs to think they will get to go back.  But this does does not mean they get to every time, just the majority of the time. 

Drop It & The Re-Bite

Just like “come to me” drop It training is also riddled with the redirect technique. Where trainer will advise you to have another toy to exchange.

Dog with a toy pig

But…Do you think this would work if it was this squirrel was in his mouth?

Dog looking at a dead squirrel

No way…

Luckily, the anti-cue also works for Drop It. Instead of Re-Play, its Re-Bite. After a successful drop I give permission to continue doing “the undesired behavior” which is to have the item in their mouth.  After the dog has dropped the item, say “Get it” and allow the dog to take the toy again. 

Every time you play tug, fetch, catch, or “sock retrieval” tell him to drop it and after he drops it, use a Re-Bite word such as “Get It or ‘Take’. This gives him/her permission to have the item again. Do this as much as possible when playing or even when he has something from the recycling bin. After a while, he will start to associate “Drop It” with the “Re-Bite Game” and think, ‘Drop It, Okay, no worries, I’ll get it again’. 

Tips For Teaching Drop It

  1. When doing a Re-Bite, present the toy by holding it at both ends and give the cue word. “Get It” or “Take”. 
  2. Do not wave it around
  3. You can do re-bites with anything: Socks, Toys, Clothes, Pillows and so on.
  4. Do at least 1 Re-bite per session, but the more the better. 

And there you have it. The use of the anti-cue makes choices clear for dog with out depriving him of fun. Using the Anti-cue will get you where you need to be in your training because………

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