Training a Puppy to Come
A Flexi Lead (Retractable leash) is a great tool for teaching puppies to come when called. We only recommend the Flexi Brand. For small puppies 10 lbs and under (toys and small breeds) we recommend The Flexi Classic Long 1 (Up to 26lbs – cord/23 Ft.) and for medium to large breeds we recommend the Flexi Classic Long 2 (Up to 44 lbs.- cord/23 Ft.)
A Flexi-lead should not be used for walking puppies or dogs. It gives dogs too much freedom and does not teach proper leash behavior. It also can be a safety hazard if you do not use it properly.
Be sure to read the Flexi instructions carefully before using and be aware of the safety hazards and precautions that need to be followed when using the Flexi or any other retractable leashes.
A Flexi is a great tool for training a puppy to come because it allows the puppy to move freely away from you without it feeling the pressure of the leash.
To begin the training session have the following items. A treat bag, treats (we recommend soft treats like Zukes which are pre cut into very small pieces and are not junk food) and a flat collar. Clip the treat bag on your belt. Start your sessions in a distraction free area such as your back yard.
Start the lesson by letting your puppy wander away from you. When she is about six feet away call her using her name first then the command “Come”, i.e. “Dolly Come”. Have the treat in your right hand and hold it at the puppy’s eye level as a target. As the puppy comes to your hand release it into her mouth and praise. If the puppy does not respond and continues to move away from you click the brake button, repeat the come command and pull the locked Flexi towards you then instantly release the brake button as the puppy moves towards you letting the line reel itself in. The puppy should stop and show commitment to coming to you. While holding the treat in your right hand use it as a target to bring the puppy into you. Treat and praise. Give the puppy a release command such as “OK”, “Be Free”, “Go On” or whatever you want to use. Let the puppy move further out each time and repeat the exercise. If the puppy turns and comes to you without hesitation then you do not need to lock and pull. If the puppy does not come then lock, pull and release the Flexi as the puppy starts moving towards you.
You do not want to create slack in the line. This can cause injury to you and your dog. If by chance you do create slack in the line then lock the Flexi and remove the line from the dog’s collar. While holding the clip that attaches to the collar let the line reel in slowly.
During the first week of training a puppy to come exercises treat the puppy every time even when you have to pull the puppy to you. Starting the second week treat every 2nd or 3rd time only. During the third week start treating randomly. As the puppy starts to respond to her name and the command more reliably then start doing these exercises in higher distraction areas.
Another refinement to add to these exercises are to randomly put your hand into the puppy’s collar when the puppy comes to you. While giving the treat hold the puppy’s collar so that you condition the puppy to let you control him without protest. Too often dogs learn to come to their owners, take the treat and run. By conditioning the dog to letting you control him by putting your hand into his collar you can prevent this from becoming an issue or game later on.