View Full Version : the word "come"

8th July 2006, 01:26 AM
HI guys. Kosmo is 5 1/2 months old now and he's doing great - He sits, lays, shakes, speaks, bows, and I even can get him to occaionally scratch his bum on command :rotfl: but I cannot get him to learn the word come whatever I do!! The trainer we're working with has told us never to use it unless we're 100% sure he's going to come to us, but even in a situation like that, he still refuses to do so! The most embarassing part of this problem is that when I say "Kosmo, COOKIE!" He comes running to me 100% of the time! :yikes He's so manipulative when it comes to his charlee bears! How can I effectively learn to substitute the word "cookie" with "come?" Sometimes he comes, but only if I show him that I have a "cookie." If he doesn't physically see it, he's more interested in staying outside and sniffing the grass. How can I fix this problem?!


8th July 2006, 02:26 AM
Put him on a 20 ft lead and when you say come-- say it like you mean it and reel him back to you if he doesn't come fast enough. It worked in obedience -- except they worked with the word "front". And they sit facing you as close as they can-- treat
might work--- Sandy

8th July 2006, 02:45 AM
thanks sandy. I'll go and buy one of those SUPER long leads then ;) It's just so frusterating when he comes to cookie! hehe ;) Typical cavalier though, huh? :lol:

8th July 2006, 03:00 AM
you can make one cheaper... You need a snap connector and a long, light cord. It really only took about a half hour and our boy understood really well. To this day you say, Topper Front and he'll come running to your feet. Really cool !

8th July 2006, 03:44 AM
Is there a particular reason why you want to use the "come" command rather than "cookie"? Afterall, if the dog's behavior for the "cookie" command gets the dog to do what you want, just say "cookie".

If you really want to use the word come, a fun, effective way to learn the command is to play hide and seek with the dog. It works best with two people, as the dog is always the seeker. Have someone hide in the house, and then call the dog using the Come command. When the dog finds the person, have the person treat the dog and celebrate like its 1999 :lol: Be sure to say "good come!" to reinforce the command. While they are celebrating, the second person is off hiding somewhere. When ready, call the dog and it will take off searching again. Its fun and enjoyable for all involved, and the dog learns that "Come" is a great game, one she or he will want to play anytime you are willing to shout come!

8th July 2006, 04:12 AM
Thanks for your reply, Moviedust. Cookie gets made fun of by everybody that sees it (they think it's hillarious), which in part, it is, but Come is just more traditional I guess. Kosmo is also in therapy dog training and "come" is a lot easier to deal with. That sounds like so much fun to play hide and seek! I love playing games with Kosmo, lol. Our latest "game" is to make him sit and stay with myself on one end of the block and my boyfriend on the other. Once I make it to the other end I holler at him and he runs and runs and runs.. it's so cute. Every time I see his ears flop like that it melts my heart and I am in love all over again, lol. Then it's back the other way to the boyfriend. He will do anything for his treats, I tell ya! He does pretty good at that but he is "working" for something, ya know? I guess he does come to me but his attention is only grabbed when I yell "cookie!" maybe it's the tone of voice I use? I find that he listens a lot better when I get excited and sort of "suggest" things in a playful manner rather than commanding them. Hide and seek sounds like the coolest game ever though! Thanks for the advice. You know what we'll be doing tomorrow. :lol: [/quote]

8th July 2006, 06:34 AM
Here are some tips from my trainer for great recalls. "Come" should always be positive, NEVER NEGATIVE! Never use "come" for things that the dog doesn't like, such as baths, being crated, taking things away, etc.... Initially, "come" should be paired with something the dog really loves, food, a special toy, a dynamite game of tug. Like Woodhaven suggested, initially train "come" when you can get the behavior 100% (ie on leash, and in the beginning a short lead works great....) Call "come", stick a really special yummy treat in front of his nose and move away from Kosmo. As he follows you, slip your hand on his collar and treat. Start this initially without distractions, as he gets the idea...and he will pretty quickly, increase the distance. As he gets better with distance (ie longer lines) you can start to add distraction, such as calling him when he is sniffing around and not really paying attention to you. Don't try to skip steps on this command. It is probably the most important one you can teach. My two have pretty good recalls but we are still a "work in progress". We were doing off lead training in the park. My two, a Tibetan terrier and a Golden were all milling around off leash, when they decided to run "in a pack formation". Our trainer had each of us call our dogs at the same time. It was incredible, they all turned on a dime, "broke formation" and came running back to each of us. That being said, I still do not let my dogs go off lead anywhere but at the park where we train because I am not sure how they would react in a different locale. Dogs do not generalize well. When we go to different places, we try to throw in practice with on leash recalls.

8th July 2006, 01:23 PM
Here's a simple answer: start using a cookie as a reward, along with very happy praise, for the dog coming to 'come'! :)

That's how I trained mine on recall. With motivational, positive method training, you always start by offering a reward, which can be praise but I have found food works better every time, especially if -- for an important command like this -- you use a very high value treat (eg not a cheerio or a piece of kibble but a cube of chicken or hot dog or cube of cheese, whatever really motivates Kosmo, Same for housetraining BTW!).

Try doing recall on a short lead first, and maybe then move on to an extensa (in a safe place, so you can gently reel him back to you then reward, so he gets the connection between come and food). Or get one of those long training/recall leads.

The best way to get a dog to come to you, BTW, is never to stand facing the dog yelling 'come. This is a threatening posture to a dog. Instead, turn sideways, and run AWAY from the dog, half facing him and clapping and calling come. Stooping down as you do this also attracts the dog. I bet he will come time after time as you start to run away from him. Call his name in a bright cheerful way, and also the word come in the same way.

Another way that is great for starting with puppies (or dogs) on 'come' is to crouch down, spread your arms wide and again call cheerfully to the dog.

Dogs are attracted to bright, cheerful, high tones in short bursts. But don;t keep repeating and repeating the command 'come' or the dog learns that the word is not 'come' but comecomecome...come come!!

Here's an excellent article on training come (or whatever word you want to use -- many recommend it NOT be come, but something else unique to your dog. I also use the word 'treats!' as a bato summon my dogs for just the reason you cite -- it gets results.


So -- isn't it odd that sometimes people think using food is 'cheating' when it clearly gets results? :) I bet every single one of us has a dog that will come reliably *every time* we use a word that indicates a treat. :lol: Kosmo comes to you because he WANTS to come when you say Cookie -- hey, there's something good to come for!

Reward-based training uses just the same apprach but for other commands. You start by always rewarding the behaviour desired in training sessions, then taper off offering the food, or offer it now and then as a reinforcer. Anyone training animals professionally for Hollywood will tell you, if you want precision work from any animal, food is the single best motivator.

You want to imprint in his mind for this or any other command, that it's always GOOD to do what you are asking. Pavlov figured it out a long long time ago -- that if you connect a cue to food, you'll reliably get a response regardless of whether food is still produced. And that is the basis of a very fun and rewarding and effective way to train.

One thing to be extra careful with teaching 'come ' is that you never ever ever scold the dog for returning to you. No matter how frustrated or angry you might be because you were calling and calling and the dog ignored you or ran off, as soon as the dog comes to you... finally... contain your frustration, swallow your anger, and *praise the dog*. If you scold, you undo all your training to associate a desire to return to you with a command word, because the dog has been now told, you get punished for coming! This is probably one of the most frequent BIG mistakes people make when trying to teach 'come' -- then they say, he never comes to me, or only sometimes comes back, or ' he comes back and knows he's been a bad dog by running away, I just know he knows because he skulks and looks guilty." That's NOT the dog looking guilty, that's the dog afraid and uncertain of your response to his return. Sometimes you praise him, but sometimes you threaten and punish. So he becomes less likely to return and when he does return he is fearful of which response he'll get from you this time around.

Recall is the single most important command you will ever teach your dog as no doubt it will save his life more than once... so be sure to make it his most relaible command, even if you find it better to stand in a field and call, 'COOKIE!' :lol: 8)

8th July 2006, 01:32 PM
Sara I should add -- he is only 5.5 months old, too. he is at an age where you cannot expect precise responses -- training should be fun and very basic (though you always want some response to 'come'). You are laying the groundwork for more serious work later. That is why puppy training is casual and fun and based on generally getting basic things right; for example puppies aren't expected to precisely heel or go into long down stays in puppy classes.

They are the equivalent of little kids and don't have the patience or self control at this age.

In general aim for short training sessions of maybe 5 to 10 minutes at this age, at home. Keep it light and cheerful.

You will also find he will likely, starting soon, begin to 'forget' a lot of the things he is doing now and grow less reliable in responses. This is because he begins to go into adolescence and will be testing your authority. The point is never to scold for not doing what you ask but always set him up for success and reward.

The training you are doing now will make the 'real' training when he gets around one, more successful. It is the equivalent now of teaching a small child to read. But just because a child gets the basics of reading, we don't expect her to be reading Dostoevsky at age 6. Everything in its time. :)

8th July 2006, 03:52 PM
Karlin gave great advice! You can do this too. We trained a recall with the 2 person cookie game. Each of us had a supply of treats. One person calls the dog (after training name recognition) using (name) come and C/T when the dog responds. Then the other person calls the dog and C/Ts. We gradually increase the distance between the 2 people. My DH stands 5 rooms away eventually and the dog runs back and forth when called. We also trained come with a hand signal. Comes in handy at the dog park when they can't really hear us. Your puppy is still young and will get it with consistency! We still repeat the recall exercise several times a week for each dog so they keep a strong response.

8th July 2006, 04:41 PM
Positive reinforcement is the only method we use. Kosmo gets EXTREMELY excited whenever he sees me put my finger on his clicker, lol. I don't yell at him because I've found out in the short while that I've had him that he is SUPER sensitive. One time he got into something and I called him a "very very BAD dog" and he ran away on the stairs until I felt bad and came and apologized.. WHen I picked him up he was like a limp noodle. The worst he gets is the word "NO" acompanied by a glare and he knows to stop it. He does get quite a bit of "cookies" though so I am thinking of switching to snap peas or bites of bellpeppers.


Thanks for your reply. I guess that's another "mistake" that I've inadvertently made with the word come. It's a word used very frequently around here because we're always going 100 miles an our. I am bad for using it for things like "come brush your teeth" (which is probably not his favorite thing). I also find myself unconsciously using it in phrases all the time like "come get it" and stuff like that. Kosmo is allowed off lead every once in a while but not too often. The only time I let him off is to play fetch in the big vacant field across from our house. The worst he's done was running away to the ball and finding a weed (he can't get enough of trying to eat the outside weeds which we are still working on) so cookie worked great to get his attention off of that.


Thanks for the response, I completely understand what you mean about this adolescent thing! I don't know if you read through it or not, but the other day I had to tell him to sit and stay TWELVE times before I got a positive response. It was brutal, lol, but he eventually got his cookie. He's testing me lately but he's going through his terrible 2s. I have to tell him to "drop" the sock he steals out of the basement about 5 times before he listens, lol. The only thing better than a smelly sock is a ball throw or a cookie, hehe. :lol:

I trained the word cookie for certian circumstances. For instance, the other day we were having our evening walk and someone lost their dinner on the left side of the sidewalk. :yuk: By the time I noticed it, it was already too late and I panicked because of course that's what Kosmo (who was trailing behind at that point) was making a beeline for. Cookie was the only thing I could shout that would deter him. People laugh at me for having "conversations" with him on walks but it's the only thing that keeps him walking nice, lol.

Thanks for the advice of not calling come facing straight at him. That might be another reason why he doesn't do it. And now that you mention it when I get down at "His level" on the ground I do have better results with him. He does do MUCH better when I get excited with him though.


Thanks for the advice about the hand signal. I will be incorporating that in. I actually saw a deaf dog on TV that was being taught the word come obviously only by hand signal and she was very very reliable. Also it seems like I get a better response whenever I use hand signals.

Ok Karlin, now you got me onto a whole different subject: Potty Training.. ..

Kos is excellent at going outside. We skipped the paper because when we tried it his kong ended up black and he thought of it as a chew toy. Plus it reaked and the trainer said "when you're looking through flyers later on in life and he sees it sitting on the floor and goes and takes a squat, you have to look at yourself because YOU were the one that trained him to do that!!" :sl*p: So I took him out every half hour when we were awake and woke up every 2 hours in the middle of the night. Thank GOD we are past that stage, but it was totally worth it as he maybe has gone in the house a handful of times since we had him. It's been maybe 2 months since he's had an accident. When he goes outside I still say "good boy!" and then try to add another few commands before he gets his treat. But he still gets it. When should I start tapering off the treats altogether? Or should I continue using his wee as an opportunity to work on other things with him? Maybe I should walk away and say "COME!" when he's finished :rotfl: