Training your dog to come is often considered to be one of the most difficult commands to teach, but it is also one of the most beneficial. Learning this command can help strengthen the bond between you and your dog, and may even save your dog’s life one day. Remember, proper training takes time and it can take weeks, or even months before your dog is able to learn the “come” command, so patience and consistency are very important. When teaching your dog new commands, you should always use positive reinforcement and you should never, ever discipline your dog for not following through on the lesson.
What You Will Need:
- A quiet room with few distractions and plenty of space to move around
- A clicker, available at most any pet store
- Lots of treats
Begin this lesson by associating a sound with a treat. Use a clicker, or some treats in a jar or can that you can shake. Make the noise, and afterwards give your dog a little treat. Follow this step multiple times a day, for many days in a row, until your dog associates the noise with a treat.
Standing a few feet away from your dog say the word ‘come’ in a loud, clear, and happy tone. At the same time, make the noise your dog now associates with treats. Your dog will come to you to get the treat. Once your dog comes to you, follow up with plenty of praise, petting, and of course, the treat. Repeat this step many times a day.
Keep increasing the distance between you and your dog; always follow up with a reward and the treat. Over time, start practicing the lesson in different settings and locations. If your dog does not progress with the lessons, take a step back and repeat a previous lesson until the association is really cemented in your dog’s mind.
Once your dog is able to follow the "come" command in different locations, settings, and at long distances, begin to slowly phase out the use of the noise and treat to associate "come" with the command. Begin just saying the word ‘come’ and then rewarding with a treat and praise. Over time, stop using the treat and just reward with praise and petting.
You will need to consistently practice this command daily. Always follow the command and response with praise and petting.
If your dog gets bored, it’s ok to stop the lesson for the day and pick it up again later. The key to training a dog to follow commands is to make it a fun experience, both for you and for your dog. If your dog is not responsive to the “come” command, you can try the word “here,” or another one-syllable command that you are able to say loudly, clearly, and in a happy tone. Just remember to be 100% consistent with the word you choose.
Throughout the course of your lessons, if you feel your dog is not going to come to you, walk over and get him, instead. Remain calm, patient and reassuring, even if your patience is being tested. If your dog tries to run away from you, don’t run after him as he will think you are playing a new game. Instead, try running away from him. If he follows, reward him with praise, then end the lesson and try again the next day.