February 2, 2010
Teaching Dogs the "Come" Command
If your dog slips out the front door and races down across the yard, you must be able to get him to stop and come back before he runs into the street.
Don't tell your dog to "come" if you don't think he'll comply. It's better to go and get him than to say "come" repeatedly. Practice the "come" command until you are sure your dog will respond immediately the first time you call.
Method 1: Back Up and Recall
You can practice this method in the house or while out on a walk with your dog.
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Hold the other end of the leash, say "come" once, and quickly move backward.
- Keep moving backward until your dog gets all the way to you.
- When your dog catches up to you, say "Yes!"
- Give your dog a treat.
The Back Up and Recall is a good way to teach your dog not to pull on his leash when you take a walk.
Each time he starts to pull, say "come," and move backward until your dog gets to you. Say "Yes!" and reward him with a treat.
You may spend much of your first few walks going backward, but it won't take long for your dog to learn that he must pay attention to where you are going instead of choosing his own path and speed.
Method 2: Long Line
You can also practice "come" outside using a long (20-foot) training leash. The long leash makes it easy to catch your dog if he gets distracted and wants to wander around the yard. You will need the help of another person.
- Attach the long training leash to your dog's collar.
- Your assistant should stand behind your dog and hold him by lacing her hands across his chest.
- Get your dog's attention by holding a treat in front of his nose and talking to him in an excited voice.
- Run away a few feet then call your dog to "come." Encourage him by clapping your hands or making noises but don't repeat the "come" command.
- When your dog runs to you, say "Yes!"
- Give him a treat.
As he gets better at "come," run farther away before you call him.
As your dog learns "come," practice inside (a leash isn't necessary) by having your assistant distract or hold your dog while you go out of the room. Call your dog to "come." When he finds you, say "Yes!" and give him a treat. Over time you can make this game more difficult, by moving to more distant rooms of the house before you call "come."