One of the most important commands is to teach a dog to come when called
when your dog is approaching a dangerous situation, an oncoming car or a dangerous animal, for instance, coming when called can save his life.
INVITE your dog to come to you
Why would your dog want to come to you if you are screaming “COME!#%$^#!!!” angrily, at the top of your lungs – or worse – chasing after him WHILE doing so. That may be a little scary, don’t you think? Also, don’t ask your dog to come to you that may sound like you are on the fence. Many people do not realize that they have added a question mark after the command “Come”. There is middle ground. We like to train YOU to command your dog to Come as if you are inviting him or her to a party.
Think of this from your dog’s perspective.
Who would YOU rather go to – the crazy maniac chasing you and screaming COME!!!!! At the top of their lungs, the quiet unsure owner who issues a “come?” as if they don’t really mean and sound unsure, or the fun happy owner who gives an enthusiastic “COME…..atta boy…..”…..same way they would say “hey, we’re having a great barbeque on Saturday – why don’t you COME?”. Think about it. MAKE IT FUN. Your dog should WANT to come to you.
The first thing to think about when teaching your dog to come is his motivation for doing so. He certainly loves your approval.. But if he’s off-leash, he’s also loving whatever he’s doing when you call. If you have first established yourself as your dogs leader, this won’t be a problem. How do you do that? Well, for one thing, your dog should not be off leash outside until you are first able to get him or her off leash INSIDE! Well, how do I get my dog to come to me when I call him or her inside, you ask. Read on.
In the beginning phase of teaching this command, you’ll want to be sure your dog is attached to a leash or a long line. Invite your dog to Come. If your dog decides not to, you are in a position to HELP the dog, because you are at the other end of the leash. What are you teaching the dog? You are teaching the dog that you are going to follow through every single time you ask the dog to come. Hire a Certified Professional Dog Trainer to help you with to train all the obedience commands, so you have a common language with your dog. The other benefit to hiring a professional, is to learn proper leash handling techniques – it makes ALL the difference in training your dog to come when called, to Sit, to stop jumping etc. Timing is also critical, is your timing right?
Praise and Love
When your dog comes to you, you’ll praise him. Your dog loves your approval; make sure to let him know that he’s done a really great job by coming when called. You want to be sure you are using the RIGHT level of praise for YOUR dog. Again, a Certified Professional Trainer can help you get the best from your dog.
The steps to training the “come” command:
- Start by putting your dog in an area where he is very close to you, and on a leash or long line (a small room or hallway would be great, for instance). Put squirmy puppies on a long leash. Try to find a spot without lots of interesting distractions.
- Let your dog wander away from you.
- Call him to you, using a specific command you’ve chosen. You can say “Come!” or, “Here!” or any word you’d like, as long as you’re consistent.
- Keep calling until the dog comes to you.
- When he comes, have him “sit” then praise him.
- Repeat until he figures out that you will help him each time in the event he chooses to ignore you. (this shouldn’t take long!)
- For puppies, reinforce with treats, and gradually begin to give less treats. You might give a treat three times in a row, then no treat (but still lots of praise). Work on this until you give a treat only once in awhile.
Realize that learning this command will take several sessions. Gradually move from a distraction-free, enclosed space to a space with higher distractions. Always give lots of praise.