The “come” command is more than just a neat trick; it’s also important for your dog’s safety. If there is ever an emergency or if your dog ever wanders too far, the “come” command — when used appropriately — will get your dog back to you quickly and safely.
Here we’ll look at how to teach the “come” command as well as some dos and don’ts of recall training.
How to Teach the “Come” Command
What you’ll need:
- A 10-foot training leash
- A standard buckle collar
- Rewards, such as treats or toys — choose something that your dog doesn’t get often, but loves
- A noisemaker, such as a dog whistle, squeaky toy, bell, or a closed food container you can rattle
When you should train:
- Before you feed your dog — this will make whatever treat you offer especially enticing
- Not after a walk — a dog who is tired may lose interest or fail to obey because they are worn out
Where you should train:
- An outside area free of distractions, such as your yard or a quiet park
- Change your location if the dog seems distracted. You can also change the location once your dog has started to learn the command. This will allow you to practice the command in new, unfamiliar, and challenging places.
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- Attach the 10-foot training leash to your dog’s collar.
- Take them outside and let them go the length of the leash, sniffing and exploring while you hold firmly to the other end.
- After several minutes, use your noisemaker and shout “Come!” Keep using your noisemaker and shouting “Come!” until your dog returns to you.
- When your dog returns, offer immediate praise, a treat, and show excitement!
- Repeat until your dog can perform steps 3-4 successfully several times in a row.
- As your dog begins to understand the command, add distance with longer training leashes, by connecting multiple leashes together, or in a fenced-in yard. Eventually you should be able to phase out the noisemaker.
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Recall Training Dos and Don’ts
- DON’T chase or try to catch a dog that does not “come” on command. Your dog will think you are playing a game, and this will unravel the training process
- DON’T yell at or punish your dog for not coming. This will cause your dog to have a negative association with recall, and that’s the last thing you want.
- DON’T call the dog repeatedly once they have started to understand the command. Only say it once. If the dog doesn’t obey, ignore them. This will teach your dog that the only way they will get a reward is if they obey it the first time.
- DO end your training session on a positive note. Allow your dog to successfully “come” before you quit for the day.
- DO reinforce the “come” command alongside other commands. For example, ask your dog to “sit,” “stay,” and then “come.”
Does your dog have good recall? Let us know how you trained them, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.