Learn how to teach your dog to come and make outings more safe and fun. Are you sick and tired of your dog refusing to come when you call him? Does he focus on everything around him but you?

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This can be very aggravating, especially when you are in a dog park or other public place and you want him to come back to you.  This makes the outing with your dog a negative one.

And it could possibly be a dangerous experience for both of you. Teaching your dog to reliably come every time you call could someday save his life.

Why and How to Teach Your Dog to Come Every Time You Give the Command

This is the most important lesson you will ever teach your dog. Not only will it help keep him safe, but it will also give him more freedom to run without a leash (in appropriate places and situations, of course).

Not only did “curiosity kill the cat”, but it can also just as easily kill the dog. When your dog is rushing after a ball into traffic or chasing a pesky cat into poison ivy, you want him to stop immediately and come to you when you give the command.

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Dogs are easily distracted so this potentially lifesaving command is likely to need reinforcing periodically. This is especially true if he is not taken out in public places very often. He needs the opportunity to demonstrate his ability and willingness to come when called without hesitation.

As with most training, rewards play a vital role in teaching your dog to come on command. Although praise, playtime and basic treats will be sufficient for most training sessions, reserve your highest quality treats for this all-important lesson.

The use of high value treats that he is not often given will be most effective. Strangely enough, it seems that the stinkier the treat, the better it will work!

Not all rewards involve food. Most dogs enjoy going for a walk. If you command “come” and he does so, immediately gets the leash and take him for a walk. Even if he does not come immediately, he will soon catch on to the idea of a fun reward being associated with obeying the command.

Verbal praise and a good tummy scratch are good enough rewards once he is fairly consistent with obeying the command to come. Positive reinforcement for obedience should become second nature to anyone training a dog.

A treat goes a long way in training your pup
A treat goes a long way in training your pup

Start off practicing the command at home and, preferably, indoors if possible. There are fewer distractions and less risk at home. You want to achieve 100% obedience with this command at home before attempting it in public. Slowly and surely, work on this until you are quite confident in your dog’s ability to ignore distractions and temptations.

Avoid sending negative associations with the command to come. It is easy to do so accidentally. Do not use the command to come when you need to follow up with an action he will not like. Try to reserve it for pleasant, positive actions or when there is an urgent need to recall him.

A few actions to avoid associating with the command to come are giving medicine, clipping nails, going to the vet or to the groomer. On these occasions, it is best to calmly walk over and clip on the leash before guiding them gently toward the car, medicine cabinet, bath, etc.

Get in the habit of using the words “here” or”come”, even inside the home. Many people simply call the dog’s name instead of telling them what they wish for them to do: come to them. It does get their attention but does not make clear what you wish for them to do.

Also, make sure that they come all the way to you and not just partway. You do not wish to give them the impression that not coming all the way to you is acceptable. Don’t forget to reward them, even if only with verbal praise.

The Basic Steps Required to Teach Your Dog to Come

Begin teaching this vital command at home and at short distances, no more than 10 to 15 feet to start. Making gentle eye contact and in a cheerful voice, clearly say “come”.

You may say his name before giving the command if you wish but must always include the word “come”.

Patting your leg or clapping your hands together for added encouragement is ok as well. Keep giving the command until he has come all the way to you. Immediately, give him a high-value treat.

Repetition is the key to success. After several sessions, try calling him from longer distances. Eventually, call him from another room. Although rewards should be continued, once he is consistently obeying the command, you no longer need to splurge on high-value treats.

The next step is to add low-level distractions to the session. You must still require them to come all the way to you and to immediately reward them when they do so.

Once you are confident that you and he have mastered the come command indoors, it is time to repeat this process in your back yard. Gradually increasing the distance and  adding more distractions until he is 100% reliable in obeying the come command, you will eventually be ready to take the next, big step: going public.

Be Consistent. Be Positive. Reinforce and Reward the Behavior you Desire.

It is vital for your dog to reliably come when you call him. Teaching your dog to come when you call can be enjoyable. It is, arguably, the most important lesson you will ever teach him.

If you are ready to teach your dog more tricks, read this. https://excellentdogsclub.com/7-tricks-to-help-improve-your-dogs-mental-and-physical-skills/

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Photos Courtesy of Pixabay

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As Wife, Mother of 5, and Nana of many more, I have known and loved many dogs who were treasured members of our family. My education, experiences in showing, breeding, and developing pedigree-based breeding programs for others gives me a strong background upon which to base articles of interest to most dog lovers. However, it is my great love for dogs that gives me the passion to share them with other dog lovers.


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