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Day 5: Never Shock a Puppy

In week 5 of the 2010 Never Shock a Puppy dog blog campaign, we offer a few ideas on how to get your dog to COME when you call. The main post started to get REALLY long, so I’m continuing one idea here. And, it is this: Playing FETCH is a great way to practice recalls every single day. We even made a little how-to video (see below).

I Don’t Need No Stinking Fetch!

Now, you need to know that Lilly is perhaps the ONLY border collie in the history of border collies who did NOT like fetch when she was a puppy. She would play a little bit, but then she would get this look on her face like, “WHY do you keep throwing that @#$@# thing?”

So, we had to teach her to love FETCH. It started by throwing a piece of food for her to chase and eat, then we’d call her to us and repeat. Eventually, we began using a toy and traded it for food when she returned. Now, Lilly is a fetching fool.

Play Is Training

Many of us tend to think of dog play as one thing and dog TRAINING as something else entirely, but they truly are one in the same.

Not only is fetch a great way to exercise your dog, but you can use it to practice (and reward through PLAY) three cues:

  1. Fetch
  2. Come
  3. Drop It

The Recall Cue

You will notice that I always use Lilly’s name before I say COME! A long time ago a trainer suggested this construct because:

1. Using a dog’s name to get her attention is a good idea (especially if you taught good name associations by playing The Name Game as suggested by fellow Never Shock a Puppy coalition member, Debbie Jacobs over at, in a video blog.)

2. It sets COME apart from other stationary cues like WAIT or STAY. The trainer’s theory was that when you wanted your dog to stay put, you purposefully did NOT use a name. Saying, “Lilly, STAY!” in other words could be confusing. So, stay is just STAY. Come is always, “Lilly, COME!”

How-To Video

If you cannot see the video embed below, try this link: How to Teach COME Through Fetch.

Enter to Win Great Prizes (tell your friends!)

Again this week, we’re doing random prize drawings for some awesome gift packages on the Never Shock a Puppy site. We’ll take entries (via comments posted on Never Shock a Puppy). I hope all of you will hop over there and comment for a chance to win. Seriously. Nice. Prizes.

Please Donate?!

I’m beginning to WORRY that we will NOT reach our fund-raising goal of collecting $2,500 for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley’s upcoming No-Choke Challenge (set to begin in November 2011).

Every little bit helps, even $1 or $5. So, if you believe that positive-reinforcement dog training should be the RULE, not the exception, we’d appreciate your vote of support via a donation.

The donation widget will be to your right in the sidebar during the campaign. Just click the donate button on this handy-dandy donation widget to get started! If for some reason you cannot see or use the donation widget, please visit the Never Shock a Puppy Donation Site instead.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

barrie - September 30, 2010

What an awesome hill and how fabulous for Lilly’s back muscles if you throw UP the hill so when she is seriously driving forward she is going uphill not down 🙂

Deborah Flick - September 30, 2010

I LOVE the video! So sweet how you talk to Lilly. And, of course, her performance is terrific.

    Roxanne Hawn - September 30, 2010

    Thanks, Deborah. I’ve had to cultivate a very specific communication style for Lilly’s VERY sensitive temperament.

Anthony Holloway - September 29, 2010

It is funny you say Lilly is the the only border in history to not like fetch. I think Daisy may be the only lab in history that does not like fetch. She will go get the item once and then it becomes a game of keep away. She circles just outside my reach. If I make the mistake of reaching for the item she runs away. If I leave her alone she will come but position herself so she is touching me but I can not easily get to the item. If I am able to get the item and throw it again she just looks at me like “I thought I was clear. I am not playing this game.”

    Roxanne Hawn - September 29, 2010

    That is funny for a Lab. They’re usually wild about fetch. I know you watch her calorie intake, but I wonder if you traded her food for the toy, if she’d be more keen on bringing it back TO YOU …rather than playing chase.

Peggy @Peggy's Peg Place - September 29, 2010

Lilly is so beautiful! Great ears! I love this idea for teaching “come!” It takes away the motivator of food (which admittedly I’ve used in the past to bribe Kelly to come.) and playing with Mom is the reward. We’re going out to play right now! Thanks.

    Roxanne Hawn - September 29, 2010

    Well, we use food to teach or reinforce things all the time, but PLAY is another awesome way to make learning fun.

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