Susan Garrett’s newsletter

Susan Garrett has a newsletter that she sends out with various dog training tips.

You can sign up for it here.   She has helpful tips and articles on her clickerdog site as well.  go check it out.


Basics – Teach a dog to come

Teaching a dog to come, or teaching a good recall, is a tool that EVERY dog and owner should have in their tool box.


  • It could save the dogs life
  • It saves you steps of having to go get the dog all the time
  • It makes teaching games like fetch a whole lot easier

Variety of ways to train this behaviour. I’ll start with the easiest first.

  1. Get puppy home. Get his attention, then crouch down in an inviting way, say Puppy, come. then reward puppy for doing so, while touching his collar. 🙂 Do this anywhere and everywhere.
  2. Catch your dog coming toward you. Fido, come! Reward.
  3. Arrange things so that when you say “Come,” there’s a high likelihood that your dog will come to you. For example, say “Come” when your dog is looking at you and appears to be ready to return to you anyway. Or have really desirable treats to increase his motivation when you say Come. If your dog is motivated by play,hold his favorite play toy when you say come, and use a firm, positive, upbeat voice.

Let’s say your dog chooses to ignore this more oft than not. Do not let him get into that habit. Really…you just don’t want to go there.

  1. Attach a long, light line to your dog.
  2. Get your dog’s attention. i.e. If dog is actively digging a hole or chasing a squirrel now is NOT the time to ask your dog to come. Go to your dog, as close as you need to that you are noticed.
  3. Call your dog’s name, say come. Do so in an inviting way, i.e. crouch down on the ground slapping your knees, tapping the ground or what have you. 🙂
  4. IF your dog comes, then reward in a manner that works for your dog. IF he doesn’t come, give a slight pull on the lead to encourage forward motion. DO NOT get angry, just remain upbeat. Good boy Fido, Good boy. Fido Come!
  5. Reward, reward, reward.

Some additional tools in teaching a come

  1. If there is more than one person in your household, sit on the ground put the puppy between you, have one person call the puppy to you. Reward every time the puppy comes. Give a good petting. Then have the other person call the puppy, reward, and then continue back and forth.
  2. Go for a walk in some place where you can walk your puppy off leash safely. ‘get lost’ (i.e. hide so that you are not immediately visible) and call the puppy. This teaches two things. First that your puppy must keep an eye on where you are and second to come when you call.
  3. What often works for dogs that don’t want to come when they are called is for their owner to get that dogs attention and then race madly the other way. Dogs like to chase. 🙂 When the dog is close to you, say Fido come in an inviting way, and then reward.

ALWAYS before rewarding touch the dog or grab hold of his collar so that he knows that coming means physical touch as well. Helps to prevent that dance of…I came, but I’m staying just out of reach of you, which gets owners frustrated with their dogs, which makes training a solid recall more difficult. 🙂

As with all training, proof it. As in, do in anywhere and everywhere, all the time. Noise, busy streets, quiet bushes, bustling people, just walking randomly etc. Fido come! Fido, what a good dog! Reward! 🙂

A PDF on using a clicker training method of teaching Come.

Other resources you may find helpful:

Some things to avoid doing

  • getting angry with your dog for actually coming to you (even if it’s after you called and called, even if it’s after the dog has torn up your flower bed etc).
  • calling your dog when you know he’s not going to hear you (aka squirrel chasing)

Basics – Teach a dog to sit

I was out browsing the blogosphere… and learned something…something that I think is fairly basic, isn’t.  Some folks don’t know how to teach a dog to sit.  So I thought, okay… why not do a series on some of the basics of dog training.  Things like sit, come, stay, down, loose leash walking and so forth.

So Let’s start today with the SIT!

When properly taught and executed, the sit command can keep your dog out of trouble and can build up its confidence.

The goal: for the dog to park it’s butt on the floor with it’s head up (preferably looking at you).

How to achieve this goal depends on your methodology.   Since I’m not a clicker trainer, I won’t go there.   Since I’m not a total into force person, I won’t do that either.  I do what works.

Find out what motives your dog.  food?  toy?  verbal praise?  What makes your dog happy?

For my first couple of dogs – food glorious food.  That’s what they wanted the most of.  So for food motivated dogs, take the cookie, call your dog toward you, as they get really close to you start moving the cookie up a bit.  Dog will put it’s butt on the ground as it looks up at the cookie.  Trick to this is don’t move the cookie up too fast or it will encourage the dog to jump up.  Don’t move too slowly or it will be tempted to grab it.  AS SOON AS the dogs butt hits the ground say sit, good dog.   give the cookie.   repeat a few times.  🙂

With some dogs you may need to add a slight tap or push on the hind end … don’t get into the habit of doing this, but for some dogs it helps.  🙂

For my current dog, food has to be really really good for there to be solid interest, but a ball…wow mom!!!! it’s a ball!!!!!   can I have it??? can I can I?    So do the ball thing like you would a cookie/food treat.     then do what works for your dog.  for my sassy I would just hand her the ball, I’ve worked with other dogs where they sat, I tossed the ball just a short distance.  YEAH!!   hey…let’s try that again.  🙂

Practice that every where you can, at home, on the street, around children playing, with strange noises going on and so forth.  You want the sit to be a really really reliable command.

Decide what sort of hand signal you want to use with it.  I use my right hand and cup it in a upward motion against my belly.  What way if you can’t talk for some reason but can get your dog’s attention you can still maintain some order if it’s needed.   Others I’ve seen do a hand up in the air.   Figure out what works for you.

Gradually you will want to add some distance.  i.e. call fido to you, then as fido comes say sit!  (yes,  fido will be confused, but hey…fido’s learning, be patient).

Other sites you may find helpful:

  •  pet place
  • essortment, take some of what is said here with a grain of salt, it is NOT necessary to train your dog to sit on your left hand side.  When you are first training, just get your dog to sit.  🙂   afterwards teach your dog to sit in whatever position you ask of him.  Facing you, on your left, on your right, in the middle of a parking lot with you 10 feet away (if there are no cars around to hit him/her) etc.
  • pawprints and purrs
  • Dog sit training

So that will get you started.  It’s just one of the myriad of things that you can teach your dog to do on cue, and that you will ever so helpful.

For a hint on Clicker training a sit, go here.