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COMMAND "COME"

Command "come" is the main command in the Obedience phase of an IPO Trial and also is the most important command in a dog’s life. A Doberman may live through a happy life knowing this single key command - "come" - such a simple yet crucially important command in the life of a dog. Its ideal performance determines the whole process of a dog training, and oftentimes provides for the safety of your dog in everyday life. This is the reason why a Doberman owner should devote priority attention to this skill, first of all in everyday life. It is important to start training the dog to come to you when they hear the command "come" as early as possible in their life.

 Puppy experiences are the brightest and most stable in the life of a dog. If a puppy gains experience of  running away from their master early in life, they are most likely to carry this habit all along in their  adulthood. It is possible that an experienced trainer will overcome this negative stereotype and train the  dog to come to them following the command, however, there will always be a chance that a dog recalls  the old habit and will not obey their master. So, it is important to devote the time to train the dog in this  command early in their puppy life and make sure that this command practice is done correctly.

 At the age of 6-8 weeks, a puppy usually leaves their mother and siblings and arrives to a new family.  Puppies quickly adapt to new life conditions and new people. In 2-3 days they can distinguish their master  from other people. This is the time to get started on the first training lessons. At the moment when a  puppy decides to come up to you voluntarily, always say the command "come" and encourage the puppy  with a treat or a play. Do not apply any punishment at this stage, only positive reinforcement. The puppy   should see how happy you are when it comes up to you. It should long to come to you, to receive the next  portion of caress, treat or play. A play in this case has an advantage over treat, because a full puppy may  ignore a treat, but it will always want to play. 

In the period up to 8-10 weeks of age, you play the role of a mother for the puppy, as it is too young to be on its own and depends on you in everything; at this stage the puppy is nice and well-behaving. But here comes another day, and a bit grown-up puppy decides that it is quite grown-up and independent, and may do whatever it likes. Usually this happens at 3-4 months of age. A puppy that was obedient just the other day suddenly sets off to explore the world and turns "deaf" when you call them to come to you. What does the majority of dog-owners do in this situation? They do a serious mistake - the owner follows the dog and puts them on a leash. The next day comes. The story repeats itself, but this time the owner runs after the dog and tries to catch it. Trust me, every day this "wild beast hunt" will be more fun and fascinating for the dog, and more and more weary and dreary for the master. Next thing you know, you will start using a variety of methods to trick the dog: luring with a treat and bones on a piece of string, throwing a lasso on the dog's neck, wild jumps from ambush, hoping to catch the dog's tail, planned raids with the help of family and relatives... 

Every day the situation will get worse and worse, eventually, the dog will get an unquotable nickname and won't be allowed off the leash. Although, all of this could have been avoided if only the owner behaved smarter than the dog and did the right thing. So, the puppy acts like it doesn't hear the command. Rule #1: never follow the dog, don't move a single step in its direction. The command "come" implies that the dog comes to you, and not the other way around. Do everything possible to attract the puppy's attention, but don't show signs of panic. You must radiate confidence that the dog is under your control. Try to attract the puppy's attention with a treat or a toy, and if that doesn't work, quickly run away, in the opposite direction. The puppy will most surely run after you, and even when it comes running close by, continue running and as you do this, try to refocus the puppy to a play with a toy. Don't fall into temptation of grasping your pet at the moment when it is in a reachable distance. This will be a big mistake. You can take it by the collar only when the puppy is carried away with a game (or eats a treat) and completely forgot that it didn't want to come to you. The puppy should not realize that you were trying to catch them.  

 Finally, you managed the situation. If you did everything correct, the puppy won't remember anything  negative. Now your task is to make sure that such uncontrolled situation never repeats. So, in this same  day, as you leave for a walk, you should attach a strong cord to the dog's collar (5-6 meters long). From  this point and some time in the future, you will have to walk the dog with this gear. It is not necessary to  hold the cord, let it trail behind the dog on the ground, without limiting it in play and movement. Sooner or  later the situation with misbehavior will repeat. But now you've got everything under control and you can  give your puppy a lesson in obedience. You say "come", and the puppy is busy doing it's own things. A  second after pronouncing the command, pull the cord hard in a powerful manner and call again "come".  

 If the puppy is walking in your direction, you should momentarily encourage it with words "Good, well  done!". But don't move a single step in the puppy's direction. If the puppy walks to you hesitatingly (it is  thinking - to come or not to come), stir them up by running away. As soon as the puppy is near you, praise  it with a treat or yet better with a wild game with a favourite toy. Never drag the puppy by the cord - it's a big mistake. The cord is fastened to the collar for a sole reason that you could remind the puppy about yourself from a distance and give them a hint on the right course of action. The puppy should come to know that you can always influence it, even from a distance, but it's best if the puppy doesn't understand how you do that. As if someone invisible was pushing them to go into the right direction. Command "come" - quick jerk of a leash and freedom of action again (relaxed leash), but this freedom is only seeming. If the puppy chooses the only correct action - to run towards you, it should receive a positive reinforcement - an award, if it doesn't obey, then after another second of freedom, another jerk will follow, this time a much stronger jerk and again - freedom to make a decision, and so on. There's no point in simply dragging the puppy to you. While you are going to be dragging a jibbing puppy, it will think that the cord is the enemy, that it (the puppy) fell into trap together with the owner. The puppy's thoughts will be full of fear and only one desire will cross its mind - let this all end soon. It is very unlikely that under such stress and fear, the puppy will remember the command "come". However, if you are going to use the leash-cord in the right manner, you're destined to succeed. Most likely, you will need a few of such lessons, so plan to walk the dog with this cord for some time still. 

As soon as the dog starts to come to you following the command, in spite of other irritants, take away the cord. Consistent walking with the cord hinders final success as well, because the dog soon realizes that its dependence on you is the cord, and becomes completely disobedient without it. The ideal solution is periodic use of the long cord. In places with little irritants, walk without the leash, while trying to dominate the dog's attention: play and communicate with the puppy. Don’t let the dog be on its own during the walk. You are its master, leader, and the dog should be attentive to each of your movement and word at any time. If this component of the relationship is missing, you’re more like a shepherd, grazing a goat or a cow. You chose which role you’d like to play. I am sure you will choose the proper solution and act right.  

So, the puppy gladly comes to you when you call their name. However, as the dog grows, new situations will emerge, where you will have to find the right course of action. One of the most common problems related to “come” command is picking up of bones and other “treats” from the ground. When a dog snatches a bone from the ground, most owners once again make a serious mistake: they scold the dog while calling it to come, and as soon as the dog trusts to come to the master, they punish the dog. Certainly, next time a smart dog will run away when it hears this command, because the punishment was related to command “come”, and not to the pick up of food from the rubbish heap. Eating was an unconscious, instinct-guided action, while the dog’s coming up to you was a conscious act, just like the dog was trained to do when it hears the command, and what did it get as a reward? A punishment! Or worse yet continuation of the story: bring the dog and rub its nose into the place where it found the food, and cuff on the nape at the same time. You’ll achieve two goals at once this way: you will train the dog NOT to come to you when it hears command “come” and quickly eat anything it finds at the rubbish heap, chewing as it runs away. What’s the best way to solve this problem? First of all, resist the desire to beat the dog, this is pointless. We humans differentiate the food on the plate and the food on the ground, the dog can’t see the difference. If a dog gnaws a bone, and it happened for the first time, then it is most likely that the dog will come up to you as you call their name, don’t punish it or take away the bone at this time! Don’t show you’re horrified or mad. Put yourself in the place of a dog: bone – great! Better suggest a treat instead, take the bone (however disgusting it may be), praise the dog, let it know that you’re happy it brought such a “necessary” thing to you. Hide it and only when the dog doesn’t see it – throw it away. It is virtually impossible to train the majority of dogs NOT to eat from the ground, because a dog is a predator at heart, and anything it finds must be eaten. So, as you start fighting this instinct, think twice: is it worth it? will you not lose more than you’d like to gain? It is better if the dog brings anything eatable to you at the first call, and momentarily comes to you as soon as you noticed it’s going to eat something, rather than you chase the dog for hours, while it manages to eat all it can find in the meantime. What should you do if the dog with a bone doesn’t want to come to you? Don’t call it to come to you for too long, as each time you’re saying the command without reaching obedience, you help the dog fix it in its mind that the command may be ignored. It is also useless to catch the dog. The best thing you can do now is behave like the fact doesn’t bother you at all and wait until the windfall is eaten and the dog comes towards you. Letting it go once, will give you one more chance to solve the problem in the nearest future. Get back to using the cord again and go to a place where bones and other unwanted food is on the ground (or put them there beforehand). Repeat the approach with the cord – make sure the command is obeyed, you as a master speaking and behaving in an imperious manner, and praise the dog. Remember the main rule: never punish the dog after it came to you following the command “come”, even if the dog did something out of order, even if you chased it for hours, restrain yourself and maybe you will win the chance to get the dog come up to you. 

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