Don't use a command the dog doesn't know yet
A while ago I was playing in our yard with a new puppy. This puppy was just with us and I had not trained him yet. We were playing around and the pup was running around me with great joy.
At one point I got down on my knees and, with food in my hand, tried to lure the pup to come to me. I did this without using the command "here" because I hadn't taught the pup this yet and I also wasn't sure if the pup would come to me. It took a while, but eventually the pup came to me and of course I rewarded it immediately by giving it food from my hand.
My wife was watching all this from a distance and said to me jokingly, "Are you a dog trainer? That puppy doesn't listen to you at all!". That's right, I said, and then I explained to her that if you think a dog isn't listening to you, then it's better not to use a command either.
People keep calling their dog, even when the dog doesn't listen
In fact, it happens very often that people call their dog and the dog does not listen. Yet they continue to call him afterwards. In this way, the dog does not learn to listen and it is therefore better not to use this command in those situations.
The command "here" is in my opinion very important in educating and training a dog. A dog that always listens directly to this command is not only very important for yourself, but also gives the dog a lot of freedom. He can run loose in the woods and play with other dogs because his boss is sure that he will always come to him when he calls him.
Dogs that do not listen to this command can never get this freedom. The owner is then always afraid that he has no control over the dog and that he will run away. Often these dogs have to stay leashed and that does not make them happy. Therefore, it is very important to teach a dog to always listen to this command.
Be sure that the dog will listen when you call him
When we have a new pup or dog, we start from day 1 with teaching the dog the exercise "here". There are then two things very important that you must think about:
- Use this command only when you are sure that the dog will listen. For example, if you are sure that the dog has sufficient motivation to come to you and be rewarded. And if there are no other temptations nearby that the dog might be more interested in.
- If you are not sure whether the dog will listen, make sure you keep control of the situation. One way to do this is by leashing the dog so that we are always sure that the dog will come to us when we call it.
By doing this consistently from day 1 we lay a good foundation for a dog that will always listen to the command "here".
Call the dog in a variety of ways and reward the dog for good behavior
A mistake that is often made is that a dog is only called by its owner when it is on a leash. For example, while walking when other dogs are approaching, or for any other reason where the dog could be distracted. By only calling the dog at these times, the dog will learn that the command "here" is not positive and he will always be leashed. Often the dog will then start looking around for where the other dogs, or other temptations are, because he has been given the command "here" by his boss.
If we help people with their dog we advise therefore always to call the dog during a walk a number of times for nothing. As soon as the dog comes to you, reward him with a nice piece of food and let him go immediately afterwards. This makes the command very positive for a dog. He hears his name and the commando and then he goes to his boss and gets a nice reward and then he can go back to play. This will always motivate the dog to come to you.
This method works for every dog
I also use this method when training working dogs. For example, when training for biting exercises in the KNPV-program, where the dog is highly motivated to bite the decoy. There is also an exercise in which the dog is not allowed to bite and must stop chasing the decoy and run back to his boss. As soon as the dog hears the command "here" he must stop immediately and turn around. When I train this with my dogs in the beginning, I always let them go back to the decoy and bite again as soon as they have listened to the command. Because of this, something positive is linked to the command and the dog will always come to me with a lot of motivation.
So the command "here" is a very important command. If you use this properly from day 1, it will give you and your dog a lot of freedom and pleasure in the rest of your dog's life!