Training Your Dog To Come On Command

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Training Your Dog To Come On Command

by Ann Griffin

For the next couple days start randomly saying the word ?COME? in an upbeat happy voice anytime your dog looks at you and quickly give him a treat. Then go about your business again and ignore him. The idea is to teach the dog to associate the word ?come? with something good, hence the treats.

Once your dog is eagerly anticipating his cookie after you command ?COME? then start doing this when he?s not looking at you, maybe even a few steps away. With any luck he?ll whip around and start looking for that treat he?s expecting. Good! He?s got the idea. Take a few steps back which will encourage him to come toward you then reward him with the treat and go about your business again.

It?s a good idea to always touch the collar first before giving the treat. If your dog gets loose outside you?ll want him to easily accept you taking hold of his collar when he comes to you.

Now we can start adding a little more distance and distractions to the mix. Call your dog when he?s across the room, then in another room, then move on to calling him when he?s slightly distracted. Always be sure to reward him when he gets to you, and mix up the treats every once in a while to keep him on his toes. Varying the amount of treats he gets upon his arrival to you is also a good idea . If he?s not sure if he?ll get one treat or three then he?s more likely to rush over to you quickly each time you call.

Start with low expectations and then raise them as your dog progresses. It?s unfair to expect a dog who?s only being in training for a week to come when called off leash when outside and distracted. If he hasn?t been trained in such conditions, then he won?t respond. Start in low distraction environments like the living room and then work up to more distractions as your dog becomes more and more successful.

But shouldn?t he be coming to me just because I call, not because he wants food?

In the beginning it?s up to us to teach the dog what the word COME means. Using food treats for this make the process go much faster and helps the dog to learn easier because he?s more motivated to focus. After your dog is reliably coming when called every time, even around distractions, then you can start to wean him off the treats and only offer them for extra quick responses or when he?s highly distracted.

Important Points

Use a leash! This will give you greater control over the situation. It?s a good idea to let the dog drag around a six foot lead so if he decides to ignore your call you can simply pick up the lead, give it a gentle tug and encourage him to come to you.

Never give a command you won?t enforce. If you command him to come, then you better make it happen should be choose to ignore you. Allowing him to do so is only teaching him that he doesn?t have to obey your commands every time. Either help your dog to make the right choice if he is still learning by backing up a few steps to encourage him, or pick up the lead and give a gentle tug to let him know that come means come NOW.

Practice make perfect. Plan on doing at least fifty repetitions at each stage before moving on to add more distance or more distractions. Don?t rush it, make sure your dog is consistently responding before moving forward and expecting more of him. Asking too much to soon will only cause frustration for both you and your dog.

Use small treats. No need to break out the big milk bones for this exercise. Small, smelly treats should do just fine. The smellier, the better. Tiny pieces of beef jerky work very well and are easy to keep in your pocket.

Ann Griffin runs a pet resource website at, a place for pet owners to find dog training articles, contests, dog forums and more.

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