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You don’t want to learn the hard way the importance of getting your dog to come to you when called.
Just imagine: your dog has immediately run off to join a fellow dog across the road, and there’s a vehicle approaching. You automatically give the “come” command in a frantic effort to save it.
The crucial question is this: is the dog going to respect your authority?
That’s just one example showing the importance of obedience from your dog. It makes it essential that you learn all the basic dog training strategies.
To train your dog effectively, you have to use the behavioral change approach. Use gentleness and motivation to achieve a close and more communicative bond between you and your pet.
Note that it’s good to start training early when the dog is still at the puppy stage to avoid any eventual and adverse future outcomes.
Here are the best tips, strategies and processes for training your dog for the “come” command:
1. Mentally prepare your dog.
When thinking about how to teach a dog to come, remember that there’s an initial step where you will be preparing your dog for the training.
At this point, you should let the dog understand and appreciate all the benefits of cooperating.
2. Adopt a command word.
Devise a command word like “come” and use all means to let your dog know its meaning.
Try to practice the command with a pleasant tone to be received positively by the dog. Always associate compliance with the rewarding of food.
You can give the dog one of its favourite food treats, or you can take it for a walk or perform a happy jig with it.
3. Reward command acceptance.
Let the dog know that obeying the command will result in a reward. You should, at all times, avoid associating the command acceptance with punishment.
For example, you might call the dog with the intention of reprimanding it or putting it on a leash; this is not wise as the dog will take it negatively and refuse to come next time.
Have a pleasant attitude every time the dog obeys.
4. Avoid distractions.
Let your dog know that the command means to come without any deviations.
You have to communicate that effectively and positively. That can be achieved by reinforcing the notion that rewarding will only come with compliance.
If the dog gets distracted halfway through, know how to communicate your dissatisfaction without creating negative tension.
5. Use the command name and not the dog’s name.
It’s highly advisable to use the command name like “come” instead of the dog’s name.
Most dogs will associate the calling of their name with needing attention. They will think you are trying to know their whereabouts rather than wanting them to come to you.
How to Teach Your Dog to Come – Step By Step
1. Teach the meaning of the command name.
The first step is to teach the dog the meaning of the command word and how to react when called.
For the initial stages, you will need a helping partner and special treats. You can try tasty food treats, a pleasant voice, whistling, or an fun little game.
Start the process indoors, and start with shorter distances like 10 to 20 feet.
Try as much as possible to make eye contact with your dog or puppy and use the command word. You can reinforce it with other actions like whistling and clapping hands.
As the dog leaves your helper and comes towards you, encourage it by offering it special treats. After it gets used to shorter distances, try longer ones, and try it outdoors.
2. Teach full compliance by making it tougher.
You need to make the game a bit tougher to ensure full compliance.
Do this by first introducing distractions. You can try adding a passing toy squirrel in between. You can also make it tougher by hiding in the next room and calling out the command.
You may need to increase the command signature by whistling a bit more loudly to give the dog the right clue.
It’s crucial to let the dog know that it will only receive treats and rewards after fully obeying the command.
3. Teach your dog that compliance equals rewards.
During the training period, let the dog know that every compliance will be result in praise and rewards.
Always praise it when it complies, doing things like giving physical affection, happy jigs, runs, dancing, and walking. Even better, give your dog food treats than they would normally get during meal time.
After you have successfully convinced the dog that coming to you is the best course of action, any distraction will be irrelevant.
Of course, a visual really helps. So here’s an excellent video that shows you how to teach a dog to come:
Following the tips and strategies above will always ensure that your dog is safe at all times.
It might be tedious and time-consuming to achieve full compliance, but you need patience. Your dog has to fully understand in their mind that coming to you is more worthwhile than doing something else.
As a point of caution, all the training you give your dog needs to be complemented by the well-known leash laws. It is irresponsible for anybody to let their dog off-leash unless in a confined space. In this case, there will be trouble trying to achieve full compliance.
If you’re really having a hard time teaching your dog to come, you could get the help of a dog trainer. But professional dog trainers (and behaviorists for excessive barking) can cost an arm and a leg – something like $500 for 3 hours, or even more. Who’s going to pay this amount of money for just 3 hours of help?
There’s a solution. You can get instant access to a dog training program by a certified dog trainer with over a decade of experience working with clients.
This trainer has figured out that poor recall response from dogs fundamentally comes down to learning how to calm your dog down so it can regain control of its emotions.
And so he’s put together a series of emotional control exercises that have been proven to get your dog to come and listen to you when called.
This dog training package is substantial, and it costs a tiny fraction of what you would pay for the services of a typical dog trainer.
You can alternatively read my review of the program. Good luck!
Excellent article, but I have a question. What’s the difference between the tips at the beginning and the strategies underneath the “step by step” heading?
Thanks for reading. The top section gives general tips and strategies for teaching your dog to come on command. The bottom section gives a step-by-step plan for achieving it.
Our male Standard Poodle is 6 years old. We love him and he’s an amazing dog, but we’re having a big problem training him. One of the things I want to do is train him to “come” on command. I have gone through these kinds of strategies, and we’ve been working at it for almost a year, but we haven’t seen much in the way of results.
Usually, when we say “come” he either completely ignores us or wanders off to some distraction.
Can you give me some advice on what to do?
Poodles are a very intelligent breed, and some individuals can be quite independent. This can make them difficult to train. On top of that, he is an adult, and that can also contribute to the difficulty, although it’s a myth that puppies are always easier to train than adults. In any event, your poodle’s resistance to obeying your commands is certainly not due to incompetence.
Make sure that you’re consistent, and try to work on training every day. If it’s just not working, I would recommend checking out The Online Dog Trainer Program, going through their instruction, and getting help from their forum community of pet experts. You can get there by clicking the button at the bottom of this article.
Thanks so much!