The most important thing to teach your dog is to come when called. There are a few simple tricks to get your dog to come when called every time.
The Dog’s Perspective
Put yourself in your dog’s paws when training your dog to come. Often people call their dog when the dog is up to some mischief, and, when the dog comes, he is punished or called a bad dog. This gives the dog the idea that the word “come” means something bad is going to happen, so he is not likely to respond by running toward you. Given the option of continuing to chase another animal, which is great fun, or coming to you to get punished, the dog will naturally choose not to come.
The command to “come” is the most important thing your dog needs to learn. Use rewards of food and praise and the dog will learn to associate the word “come” with good things. Eventually, the dog will come when called because the command is associated with good things such as a tasty treat, which is better than whatever activity they are pursuing at the moment.
Teaching the Dog to Come
When training your dog to come, start with the dog on a long leash indoors. Say the dog’s name and say come. Give a tug on the leash, and, when the dog comes, give praise. Do this several times until the dog gets the idea and comes to you without having to be given a nudge.
After the dog has the idea of what the word means, get a handful of small pieces of dog food. Show the dog the food and tell him to come, and give her a bit when she does. You will need to do this when the dog is motivated. Just after a meal is not a good time, for example. Don’t overfeed your dog, and don’t hand out treats all the time. The dog needs to learn that he has to do something to get a treat, and, in this case, it is coming to you.
Advanced Stages, Being Outside
Beginning training should be done indoors so that you can control the situation. After the dog learns to come for a treat indoors, you may then take the dog outside and train there. Try to do this in an enclosed area. Do not punish the dog during training. Only use positive reinforcement. Use small pieces of food because you do not want the dog to get full and no longer interested in food while you are training.
When outside, call the dog to you, and, when she comes, give her the small piece of food and give her praise. You can make a game of it by using two people. Stand in opposite ends of the yard and take turns calling the dog, and give a treat when the dog comes.
Another game to try is to have one person stand out of sight of the dog and call with the treat as a reward, so the dog has to find the person calling. Dogs enjoy games like this, so it is even more positive reinforcement.
Keep Your Dog Coming
At first. Always give the treat when the dog comes. This will take some time, but it needs to be consistent for several days. When training your dog to come to you, continue the treats until the dog appears to go automatically. Also, try this when the dog is doing something she enjoys like chasing a leaf across the yard.
The dog will eventually become conditioned to come when called because they know a treat is waiting. Finally, you will not have to give a treat every time. After the dog comes for his treat many times, you may start to taper off with the treats. Instead of every time, make it every third time. You will slowly begin not to give a treat every time, but still give one at times, so the dog continues to associate coming to you with good things.
With these tips, training your dog to come will be easy!