1. Always make coming to you the most wonderful thing in the world! You want to give your dog over-the-top praise, especially if you have a young puppy, to set the bar for how meaningful it is to you. When your dog sees how happy you are for that behavior, he will always want to please you.
2. Use your dog’s name to get his attention, then only say “come” when he is moving towards you. Saying, “Scruffy, come!” while he is sniffing leaves across the yard gives him a chance to ignore you. Make sure he is on his way before adding the word “come.”
3. Build small, and work with a leash to practice. If your dog does not come to you when called from two feet away, he definitely will not from 10 feet. You can practice come from close by, reeling him in on leash and eliminating the chance for ignoring you. This reinforces recall all the time and builds on small successes. Gradually build the distance to working on a long line, and follow through with lots of praising. For an example of working on a long leash, watch this short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOBF-3N08nw.
4. You can also use high value, extra tasty treats here and there, but you do not want to rely on treats all the time. Nobody wants to carry salmon treats around forever! Use treats sparingly, not always. Some dogs figure out that “come” is only when you have treats, so keep him on his toes. Maybe you have something, maybe not, but the reward is your happiness and praise!
5. Make “come” a game outside! As a family, or with friends, stand in a big circle, and take turns calling the dog over. This will get him used to coming to everyone in the house. If you are comfortable in the yard, you can move to playing at a park with bigger distractions. Keep your dog on a long leash so you can step on it and reel him to you if he gets distracted.
6. Throughout the day when you are home, call your dog over to you when he is not paying attention. This is great practice and makes it become a regular habit to check in with you.
7. Keeping recall positive means never calling your dog when you are mad, frustrated or for something he will not like. Instead of calling “Scruffy!” for a bath, nail trimming, or something he hates, go to him and lead him. Always keep “come” a good thing!
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC