The Collar Grab Training Game

The Collar Grab Training Game

Last week I published three dog training tips to help you train your dog. These training tips are not meant to be full courses but rather “golden nuggets” of information.

One of them was about training your dog to come, and more specifically one technique that I discussed was the “Rocket Launch”. Where you have a friend hold your dog and you call your dog and run in the opposite direction to trigger your dog’s chasing instinct.

You can actually read more about the “Rocket Launch” technique by clicking here.

What I enjoy about publishing these dog training tips is the interaction that I get with other dog owners. I can read about their struggles and help them. And this is what happened; I received some interesting questions about a variety of subjects.

One question in particular was about training a dog to come close and being able to put a lead on.


So in response to Laura’s question, and anybody who might have the same issue, I’ve decided to take one of the lessons from my Walk in Harmony Game Plan and share it with you for free.

This training game is called “The Collar Grab Game”. And basically you want to condition your dog that great things will happen when you grab your dog’s collar.

Because here is the thing; most dogs learn over time that coming back to you (or their owner) is something to avoid because it leads to a loss of freedom.

Think of it from your dog’s perspective. If your dog is playing freely in a park, and it’s finally time to go home, what do you do? You call your dog to you, put the leash on your dog and go home.

But over time, your dog will learn this pattern. And you may already be experiencing some side effects of that with your dog starting to “ignore” your come command, or not fully coming all the way to you and staying a few feet away, or running away when you try to put on the leash.

So to counter-act this, you simply have to play “The Collar Grab Game”. Basically you take your dog’s collar, give your dog a treat, and then release the collar. Simple right?

Here is the video:

So when can you use this? You’d want to use this when practicing recalls; get in the habit of grabbing your dog’s collar whenever your dog gets to you. Of course sometimes put the leash on, and other times release your dog.

There’s times when I’m at the park and I purposefully practice this game with my dog. I would call my dog to me and then grab the collar, put the leash on, give her a treat and then let her go back to play.

So have fun! And let me know how it goes by writing a comment below. (Yes, I read them all.)

Jean Cote

Jean Cote is an animal lover and the founder of Success Dogs. For more than a decade, he has served as a coach to thousands of dog owners around the world to better train, communicate and forge a stronger bond with their dog using positive and force-free training methods.

  • Mary says:

    Thanks a lot Jean for all the videos and ideas. I tried in particular the one about getting the dog to love their toys and IT WAS MIRACULOUS! Little Fairouza, a 5-months old Golden Retriever, would prefer her toys (or actually any toys given to her) to any furniture or shoes. I work on it once every few days and just let her know how much I’m happy she’s playing alone with her toys and it really worked!
    Regarding street recall, I have a problem with stray dogs and she’s still a puppy who wants to play, but of course it’s dangerous. I never let her off leash, but she still pulls the leash so hard trying to get to them, not recognizing their hostile barks (I thought it was instinctive but seems not!) I tried all your techniques and she comes when called and would even look at me and get her treat, then immediately launch again for the other dog. Any thoughts would be very helpful.

    • Jean Cote says:

      Thank you very much Mary for your kind words, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve had some success with getting your little fairouza to play with you. 🙂

      As for your problem with the stray dogs, I don’t believe this is an issue with getting your dog to come, but rather you should train her to focus on you even when there are other dogs / noises / things “out there”.

      I’ve done this many times with my dogs if we were walking and a dog suddenly begins to bark at us from across a fence. I would walk away until my dog was able to focus back on me and then slowly approach the barking dog until she would lose focus. Then I would wait for her to look up at me, then I’d reward … and continue on this process.

      But of course you have to make sure that your dog is safe. If there are stray dogs then those dogs might be loose and may be able to get close to your dog, which would defy the whole purpose of the exercise.

      So to summarize, wait until your dog looks up at you then say “yes” to mark the behavior and reach in and give your dog a treat.

      Now repeat this exercise with the noises nearby… As you practice this, your dog’s skill will improve and over time your dog won’t be so distracted.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Karen Sutton says:

    Hi, Jean. LOVE all of your tips and videos. I have always tried to be a good, responsible guardian for my two Gordon Setters and your information has definately taken me to a whole new level. Please keep them coming. I have played a game similar to the collar and leash game. When we are in the fields or woods and they are allowed to go exploring, I just call “come” at different times and give them a reward then tell them to “go play” and release them again to go do their thing. I find that then when it is time to go home they always respond well and are happy to comply. Thanks again for sharing all of your wisdom and understanding of our canine companions!

  • Sally Johnson says:

    I have a little Shih Tzu who is lovely is in everyway other than when I need to put her on her lead. She will come within 2 foot of me and then start a game with me trying to get close enough to get her. I’ve tried the collar grab but she is so stubborn she will not get close enough to me for any treat or toy and dashes off.

    I’m not sure what to do now other than never let her off a lead which is very disappointing as I love to see her running around having fun.

    Thank you.
    Sally Johnson

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