To teach you how to have your dog come to you when requested.
- You can begin this exercise by having someone hold your dog while you walk away from him. If no helper is available, try working with your dog in an enclosed area.
- Turn your hand toward your body and bring it in toward your chest (the hand signal) while giving the cue “DOG’s Name and COME.” Try not to stand directly facing the dog—move your body slightly to the side.
- If your dog does not come right away, try walking in a backward motion to lure your dog to you. You can also try running away from your dog while calling him to come.
- Once your dog starts to move towards you, say your marker word, praise him heartily and reward him with a treat or by offering a beloved toy to play with.
- NEVER PUNISH YOUR DOG FOR COMING TO YOU or CALL YOUR DOG TO YOU TO PUNISH HIM NO MATTER HOW ANGRY YOU ARE! If you punish your dog for not coming or call your dog to you to punish it, he will begin to fear coming, because he connects coming to you with punishment.
- Avoid calling your dog to you if you must do something that he perceives as unpleasant, such as giving a pill, putting him in the crate, giving him a bath, or ending a play session. If you must do something that he perceives as unpleasant, just go get him.
- If your dog has learned to ignore you when you give the “COME” cue, re-name the cue to something like “FRONT” or “HERE.” Start over with a new word.
- Make coming to you when called the most wonderful thing in your dog’s life. It could save the dog’s life some day.
- Avoid using your leash to pull your dog to you or to tug on his leash when asking him to come. You want your dog to make the decision to come to you on his own. You also don’t want your dog to be dependent upon the leash tug, otherwise he won’t come to you when off leash.
- Practice this exercise on and off leash.
- Practice this exercise in many different locations.
- If using treats or a toy or something that motivates the dog, try not to show it to the dog when you call him (unless you still need to go get the dog to lure him to you.) It is fine to use treats/toys as lures initially, but repeated and on-going use of a lure will fail more often than not. If your dog sees in advance that you are holding something to reward him in exchange for a behavior, he can then weigh its value against whatever it is he would rather be doing. Instead, make the rewards for coming when called interesting, exciting, and unpredictable.