“Come” is the hardest command to teach a dog and the easiest to ruin. So PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRATICE!
Before you start training, ask yourself, if you told your dog to Come, how often would he respond the FIRST time? If his success rate is less than 65% then change the word. Most dogs learn from an early age that when their owner says Come it means; “Please come to me it is convenient for you or whenever I chase you around the yard”. Once your dog thinks this is the definition of Come, it is hard to change his mind, as a result, your best chance for success is to change the word. I tend to use “Here”.
The golden rules of “Here”:
1.Lay a good foundation- It is easy with this command to think that the dog knows it and quickly advance the difficulty of the command. This only leaves room for mistakes which shows the dog that there is a “grey area” with “Here” and that he doesn’t always have to listen. When in doubt, repeat the command from the current level of difficulty 10 more times. I cannot stress enough how important this is. If the foundation is not solid, then the command will NEVER be reliable.
2.Do not say “Here” if you can not immediately enforce it. In other words, if you are inside and the dog is outside, do not say “Here”. Say anything but that word to encourage him to come inside.
3.Coming to you on command should always be positive. If your dog is in trouble, go get him. DO NOT tell him to Here. Dogs will quickly associate coming with getting into trouble so they will not listen to the command.
To teach the Here follow the steps below:
1.First, put him on leash. This will help you to control him in the beginning and make sure that he responds.
2.When your dog is distracted (remember not to use “stay”) call him here in an upbeat but firm tone.
3.If the dog does not immediately turn to run to you, tell him no, give him a slight collar correction, and repeat the command.
a. We want him to know that he must respond IMMEDIATELY when he hears “here”. It is crucial that you correct him right away if you don’t start coming to you in 1-2 seconds. If he learns that you will say here, here, here, c’mon here before you correct him or enforce what you are saying, he will tune you out and never be responsive.
4.As soon as the dog starts coming to you, start to praise him. “That’s it, that’s it! C’mon!” All of this encouragement will encourage him to keep coming to you even if he is leaving something super interesting like a bouncing ball!
5.If your dog stops or veers of course, immediately follow up with a No and correction. Once he is on the right path, start to praise him again! Yea pup!
6.When he gets to you, make sure that he stops and sit. Once he does that, throw him the biggest puppy party ever. The 1 feet circumference around you has to become the best, most exciting place in the whole world!
7.As your dogs gets better with this command it is very important to increase the distraction level in the environment. You want him to come running to you when he is playing with a K9 friend? That will be extremely difficult for him so make sure you first practice in a controlled “high distraction” environment. For example, will he come to you if he is chewing a bone? Will he come to you if he sees another dog? Or when he is eating? When you are done training, your answer should be YES!