Come, Wait, and Follow
can I get my puppy to ‘come'
a puppy to ‘come'
on command is a very difficult
but important task. Start early
because a puppy that will come
when called is safer! In addition,
most young puppies do not like
to stray too far from their
owners. So all it takes is a
kneeling owner and a happy ‘come'
command and your puppy may willingly
approach (without the need for
any food or toy prompt). Similarly
most young puppies will automatically
come and follow as you walk away.
3 to 4 months of
age, as puppies become a little
more independent and exploratory,
more appealing rewards may be
needed. The two most important
rules about teaching your puppy
to come to you are to set up
the puppy for success (so that
you never fail) and that each
training session is simple,
fun and pleasurable.
YOUR PUPPY TO YOU FOR DISCIPLINE!
by backing away from your puppy
1-3 feet and wiggle a food treat
or a favored toy (prompt) in
front of its nose. At the same
time say the puppy's name
a happy inviting tone of voice.
When your puppy comes to you,
praise it lavishly and give
the treat. Then repeat. Start
by only moving short distances,
and then gradually have the
puppy come further to reach
you. Reinforce this task by
calling your puppy over multiple
times daily, giving a pat or
a food treat and sending it
on its way.
Try to avoid only
calling the puppy to you to
bring it inside, to put it in
its kennel or otherwise end
Be sure to spend
time calling the puppy over
and then releasing it, this
will help the puppy learn that
by coming to you, good things
happen. Remember it is critical
to succeed with every training
session. Stay close, make certain
that there are no distractions
and proceed slowly.
time, the puppy should be very
slowly taught to come from progressively
farther distances and in environments
with a greater number of distractions.
If there is any chance that
the puppy might escape or disobey,
have the puppy wear a long remote
leash (which can be left dangling
as the puppy wanders and investigates).
Then if the puppy does not immediately
obey the ‘come'
command, a gentle tug of the
leash can be used to get the
puppy's attention, and
a repeated command in an upbeat,
happy voice (along with a food
or toy prompt) should be able
to ensure that the ‘come'
command is successful and rewarding.
Puppies will not be reliable
until the pattern is
well-established, had been
tested, and the puppy has no
reason to hesitate approaching
the person calling. (NO
punishment or other actions that
break down trust.) As the puppy
matures, all the work done in
the first few months will begin
to pay off. However, the "come"
command is the most likely to be
jeopardized by inconsistency in
the trainer's response.
can I teach my new puppy to
‘wait' or ‘follow'?
a puppy to ‘wait'
or ‘follow' are
extensions of the other tasks
you should have already taught.
To teach your puppy to follow
at your side (heel), use a food
treat, place it by your thigh
and entice the puppy both vocally
and with the food to ‘heel'.
As the puppy follows its nose
to stay near the treat, it will
also be learning to heel.
dogs that constantly walk ahead
or pull, teaching your dog to
follow should begin where there
are few distractions, such as
in your backyard.
success you should keep a leash
or leash and head collar on
your dog. Begin with a ‘sit-stay'
command and give a reward. Start
to walk forward and encourage
your dog to follow or heel as
above, using a food reward held
by your thigh. Be certain to
allow only a few inches of slack
on the leash so that if your
dog tries to run past you, you
can pull up and forward on the
leash so that the puppy returns
to your side. Once back in the
proper position (by your side
for ‘heel' or behind
you for ‘follow'),
provide a little slack in the
leash and begin to walk forward
again. Continue walking with
verbal reinforcement and occasional
food rewards given as the dog
Each time the dog begins
to pass you or pull ahead, pull
up and forward on the leash,
and release as the dog backs
up. You can also ask the dog to sit each time
he pulls forward. The goal is to have
the dog return to your side.
If the dog "puts on the
brakes" and will not follow,
all you need to do is release
the tension and verbally encourage
the dog to follow. Once you
have the dog successfully heeling
in the yard with no distractions,
you can proceed to the front
yard and the street, at first
with no distractions, until
good control is achieved.
can I teach my dog to ‘wait'?
much the same as ‘stay',
this command is important for
the dog that might otherwise
bound out the front door, lunge
forward to greet people and
other dogs, or run across a
Begin with ‘sit-stay'
training, until the dog responds
well in situations where there
are few distractions such as
indoors or in your backyard.
Next, find a situation where
the dog might try to pull ahead,
such as at the front door, so
that you can begin to teach
the ‘wait' command.
Training sessions should begin
when there are no external stimuli
outdoors (other dogs, people)
that might increase your dog's
motivation to run out the door.
Use a leash or leash and head
collar to ensure control. Begin
with a ‘sit-stay'
by the front door. While standing
between your dog and the door,
and with only a few inches of
slack on the leash, give the
wait command and open the door.
If the dog remains in place
for a few seconds, begin to
walk out the door and allow
your dog to follow. Then repeat,
with longer waits at each training
session. If however, when you
open the door or begin to walk
out, your dog runs ahead of
you, you should pull up on the
leash, have your dog sit, release,
give the ‘wait'
command and repeat until successful.
Once your dog will successfully
wait for a few seconds and follow
you out the door, gradually
increase the waiting time, and
then try with distractions (dogs
or people on the front walk).
This training should also be
tried as you walk across the
street, or before your dog is
allowed to greet new people
or dogs it meets.
information sheet is based on
material written by Debra Horwitz,
DVM, DACVB and
Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB.
© Copyright 2002 Lifelearn
Inc. Used with permission under
license. March 11, 2004.