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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Features February 2013 Issue

What Definitely Won’t Work When Teaching “Come”

How many times have you seen people angrily or exasperatingly telling their dog to come to no avail, then, when they finally catch up with their pet, yelling at him and letting him know what a bad boy he was. Would you come if you knew the person calling you was angry?

Never, never, tell your dog to “come” in anger or frustration. That’s teaching him that coming will only led to unpleasant consequences, which is the same as teaching him not to come. Thus, even if he has gotten himself all muddied up and then jumps on a woman in a pink dress — on Easter Sunday — you have to say “Come” happily, like nothing in the world could be better than the two of you together at that moment. Then give him a wonderful treat and lots of praise when he reaches your side. No showing any signs of disappointment. The idea is to get him back on the leash before he can do any more damage, not try to reason with him about what deplorable behavior he has been engaging in. You can write the woman a note of apology and offer to pay for her dry cleaning later.

The next time, because you showed only delight at being with your dog, he may come even before he gets dirt all over someone.

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