Teaching your dog to come is, in my opinion, the most valuable lesson for a dog to learn.
A reliable come could save your dog’s life! Start with your dog on leash. Make sure you have a high value treat like a hot dog bit, freeze dried liver, or other very smelly soft meaty type dog treats.
Make sure your dog seems to love this treat and reserve this treat exclusively for the come command. You can either wait for your dog to be the furthest from you on the leash or run backwards away from your dog.
Say come in a very excited voice and do anything and everything to get their attention and get them to come to you, talk silly, smooch them, and show them the treat. When the dog comes you will want to “jackpot” the dog with praise and give them the treat.
When they are doing this reliably and coming immediately when you say come, move to a long line so you can get the dog to you if they simply ignore you.
Again every time they reach you – even if you helped a little by reeling the long line in – Jackpot the praise and give the reward.
Once you dog is doing this reliably practice off leash in the house and when you are sure he has it down practice outside in a secure yard, off leash. You can wait until you are in another room and yell come – again do whatever it takes to get them to come to you, be silly, be excited, make them want to come – and you can throw a ball outside then quickly yell come.
We need “come” to mean “OMG I am about to hit the Jackpot.” We want the dog to love the word come so much that no matter what they are doing come will be better.
Practice often which ideally would be numerous times a day.
Never practice all the time in the same location as the dog can learn come only means come in that situation. Make this the greatest game your dog ever played and have fun with your dog!
How did this training tip work for you? Visit us at www.facebook.com/4pawsforability/ and let us know.
Karen Shirk is the CEO of 4 Paws for Ability and guest columnist.