Dog Manual

Lesson Seven - Come When Called

THE COMMAND—COME (plus the dog's name)

The Sign—Slapping knee with both hands.

The dog is lying down some little distance away, and at the command COME he approaches his guide at a fast pace and stops in front of him in sitting position. Then commanded HEEL, he swings around and sits at the left side of his guide.

In the preceding lesson the dog has learned to DOWN. He is now unleashed but the guide is not certain he is under full control. If perchance a safely enclosed area is not available, it will be wise to practise this lesson with a leash of about ten yards in length. After tying the leash to a post, give the command STAY and walk away from the dog to a distance of, say, eight yards thus allowing a play of about two yards. Before this exercise is begun, carefully measure off the eight-yard distance in order that the space between dog and guide shall not exceed the length of the leash. This is so the dog will not be brought up with a sharp jerk before he reaches the guide. If he were thus pulled up, short, he would very naturally think he was being punished for coming toward his guide and he might therefore be reluctant to repeat or to come when called. Upon arriving at the eight-yard distance, the guide should remain standing for a little while before calling the the dog, because many times a dog has a tendency to follow immediately after his guide the instant the latter turns toward him.

Allow the dog to remain in the DOWN position for a few moments, then, before commanding COME accompanied by his name. As soon as he makes the slightest attempt to respond, he must be praised and encouraged. While calling, the only move the guide should make is to stoop over and slap his knees, or to kneel down to coax the dog forward. When the dog reaches the guide, the latter should issue the command SIT, with forefinger of the right hand raised and pointed upward in front of him. Follow this with the command HEEL, and the exercise is finished.

Throughout this entire lesson, considerable encouragement is necessary in order to overcome any shyness or fear which the dog may exhibit. Admittedly will execution of this lesson try the patience of the guide but on no account must he resort to the slightest form of punishment, no matter how stubborn the dog appears to be. Should the dog attempt to run away or to go in another direction, don't above all run after him, shouting epithets! Such an act will but serve to drive the dog farther off and make the desired execution of this command more difficult. It will destroy the dog's confidence in his guide; and it will teach him to expect punishment when finally he does obey, and this of course must not be.

When the dog responds correctly attached to the leash, then set him free and go over the same exercise once more. Command him to lie down and STAY, then walk away. Call him, encouraging him toward you all the time.

Command: "COME!" Sign: Slapping the knees with both hands. 

Going down on one knee will induce the dog to come at once. 

One of the most impressive exercises in the whole course, it is highly important to practise it daily and at every opportunity. I will list below the difficulties most often encountered and most commonly observed during the execution of this lesson:

1.    The dog will not come when called.
2.    The dog goes off in another direction instead of coming directly to the guide.
3.    The dog approaches too slowly.
4.    The dog runs in the opposite direction.
5.    The dog will not hold the STAY position, but starts to approach the guide before he is summoned.
6.    When the dog reaches the guide, he does not SIT in front of him.

CORRECTIONS—1. Suppose the dog does not come when called. As a rule this results from rough treatment which has created fear, and from lack of encouragement during previous lessons.  Some dogs that are lazy will not respond in peppy manner. To be exact, the manner in which the dog responds in this lesson will constitute evidence of just how hard, how conscientiously the guide has done his part. If the guide himself is quick in execution, the dog will likewise be quick: if he is slow, so will the dog be slow. Consequently when calling a dog that is slow to respond, drop to one knee and call the dog in a friendly tone of voice, praising and coaxing him along as he advances.

Another effective measure is to run backwards, frequently giving the command COME and using the dog's name. Usually the dog will follow his guide when he finds he is running away from him. Don't have any fear that the dog will run away and get lost. Continual practise of this phase of the exercise will do much for the stubborn animal.

2.    Suppose the dog runs sidewise instead of coming directly to the guide. In this event, consider the training field. Perchance too many intensely interesting spots attract the dog; perhaps the command is issued too slowly or in a definitely colorless tone of voice.  At any rate, a change of training field sometimes remedies this fault.

3.    Suppose the dog approaches too slowly. As in points 1 and 2, the dog must be pepped up.  Give commands in a snappy voice, accompanied by the words, "hurry up" and the usual encouragement, stepping backwards just a little as he approaches you.
4. Suppose the dog runs in the opposite direction. This is the best manner in which the dog can give evidence of a dislike of obedience. It may spring from lack of confidence in the guide: it may be occasioned by fear or by stubbornness. Possibly someone who has befriended the dog happens to be standing nearby, and naturally the dog prefers to run to him for attention. To overcome such a contingency, command with greater persuasiveness or put the dog back on the long leash. Holding the loop-end in the hand, command COME and as the dog breaks away, the sharp jerk will remind him of the direction he must take; and if still he refuses to approach the guide, he should be pulled forward as the guide walks backward at a fast pace and calls COME at frequent intervals.

Watch the dog's movements carefully. If for instance he starts off to one side or the other, change to the opposite direction thus compelling the dog to take the direction the guide has chosen rather than the one he, the dog, has selected on his own account. In other words, do not allow the dog to take the lead.

Should the dog follow in front as the guide steps backward, stop suddenly and give both command and sign SIT. Then let the dog remain sitting in front of the guide for just a few seconds before commanding HEEL, inasmuch as the tendency is for the dog to swing into position at the guide's left side immediately upon arriving before him, without waiting for the command.  The correct execution of this command will be of marked assistance when beginning with the retrieving lessons later on. Practise frequently this part of the exercise with the long leash until the dog performs his work creditably.

Too, the chainette can be used but inasmuch as it is a form of punishment, it had best be used sparingly. Even so, when the guide knows that his dog is behaving badly, he may throw the chainette immediately after issuing the command COME, taking care to encourage the dog to come. But never wait to throw the chain while the dog approaches: this in the dog's mind would mean punishment for coming when called, and it would inspire him to turn away to seek protection elsewhere.

5. Suppose the dog will not hold the STAY position for a sufficient length of time. Do not expect that, once the dog performs this exercise correctly, he will do so invariably. Don't make the mistake, at first, of expecting him to remain in the sitting position for the required three minutes for dogs of lively temperament especially find it difficult to remain quiet so long.

When starting practise of this exercise, the command COME should be issued when the dog has been lying down for only a moment. If he rises before the command is given, bring him down with a short jerk at the collar, and the sharp command DOWN-STAY. Gradually extend the time from a few seconds to half a minute, again gradually to the full five-minute limit.  The time for the SIT-STAY position, too, should be increased in like manner. And when the guide becomes certain that the dog will remain in position for the required length of time, then he may disappear without fear of the dog moving the moment he is lost to view.

6. Suppose that when the dog reaches his guide he does not SIT before him. When they hear the command COME or HEEL, many dogs are trained to come into position at the guide's left side expecting a new command. To change this, call the dog from a sitting or down position with the command COME. Slap the knees with both hands and, when a few feet away, move one or two steps forward toward the dog and give command and sign SIT. If the dog has been taught to obey the command SIT in the right manner, that is, as described in the beginning of this lesson, he will SIT at once. He must be praised, but not petted, to prevent him from jumping on his guide. Follow with the command HEEL which should bring the dog around to the left side.

Quite often the dog will develop the bad habit of jumping on his guide after the command HEEL is issued. The only solution, in this case, is to return to the leash and, as described in the Sixth Lesson, bring him from the front to the left side several times while leashed, without giving any praise except upon completion of the exercise, i.e., after the dog sits close to the left side without trying to jump which of course is stopped by the shortly held leash.