Michael Baugh, CPDT-KA, CDBC
The other dog’s eyes were hard. I could see a flash of white around her dark pupils. Her teeth flashed white too. Under it all was a low rolling growl. Stella, drunk with adolescent bravado was heading for trouble. There was no time.
We’d practiced it since the day she first came home, always the same words, an invitation more than a command. I’d call her name, sometimes like Brando in Streetcar Named Desire but not always. Then I’d call the word, “Come,” with a smile and a hint of melody to it.
We you’re first teaching coming when called it’s best to keep it easy. Set your dog up to win. That’s what I did with Stella all those months ago. I’d say “Stella, come!” when I was right next to her. Then I’d run away, luring her to chase me. When she arrived I’d click and treat followed by some cheering and petting. Then I’d do it again. And again. And again.
I taught it lots of different ways. She learned to touch the palm of my hand for a click and a treat. So sometimes I’d call her and then hold my hand out so she’d run towards it. Other times I’d hide and call her. Stella loves hide and seek. Still other times my friends and I would call her back and forth between us. Every time it starts the same: Stella come! And every time it ends the same: click and treat with lots of hoopla and lovin’
The other sure looked menacing that day. But I don’t think she would have hurt Stella. She’s super sweet and belongs to another trainer. But it’s up t me to keep Stella safe, especially at this age when she’s frequently a bit too big for her britches. So I called her away from the other dog. Stella, come!
And she came. She trotted right over to me, just the way she’d learned. Click, treat. Good girl Stella!