>This is a question for those of you whose dogs come when called, 100% of
>the time. How do you do it?
>My dog is a sheltie/ACD cross, and he has had some obedience training but
>not a lot. I admit I've been somewhat lazy with him. He knows what come
>means, and will come and sit at my feet until released.

It is no coincidence that RELIABLE execution of the "come" command is a pivotal point in a dog's training (and typical source of owner/dog frustration). If an dog/owner can accomplish this then they have reached an important milestone and have built significant mutual trust.

Prior to learning the "come" command a dog should be doing reliable sits, stays and downs. Further, the dog must obey ALL his commands on FIRST command. Verbal commands should be given simultaneously /reinforced with verbal hand/arm movements. Commands must be reinforced on a daily basis.

The come and retrieve "command" can be combined. Retrieves are ideally FUN and offer excellent exercise. For example, an owner can throw a retrieve toy, the dog can go after it and once the dog picks up the toy he can be commanded to down/stay. From the down/stay or sit/stay he can be commanded to come. The retrieve toy must be delivered into the owner's hand or placed at the owners feet, otherwise the retrieve is "unacceptable". The idea is to harness and develop your dog's desire to please in a PRECISE manner that you control. The goal is to build a perpetual cycle of good behavior and earned reward. Ideally your dog's greatest and only reward is your praise and love. Likewise, his greatest fear is the loss of this love, even for a few seconds. To achieve this requires at a minimum that the owner learn how to use tone of voice, touch and overall sensitivity to effectively COMMUNICATE to their dog their pleasure and displeasure. Also, the owner must learn to "listen" and learn from his dog. If the owner carefully observes his dog, he will begin to understand the signals the dog gives that indicate what "motivates/demotivates" him.

Final Point: The AVERAGE dog can understand basic obedience commands in a few hours (or days at most). However the development of focus and attention span (that results in consistency and reliability) DOES require training, reinforcement and challenge. That this is so should not surprise anyone. How, for example, would a human child develop if he was never talked to, never schooled, never intellectually challenged?

The "trick" is to (1) Develop your dog's innate intelligence (2)Expect and demand instant, precise obedience and (3) Make it all FUN and rewarding for you and the dog. The happiest dog is a dog that experiences the joy of actively communicating with his master(s) on a daily basis, learns how to be responsive to his master's commands and receives well earned praise on a continual basis. Once this is achieved then you dog can reach his full potential. And guess what... most owners can't even imagine let alone realize their dog's true potential.


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