There are so many important commands for your dog to learn, but the most important is “come.” It only takes a second for even the most well-behaved dog to see a squirrel and dart into traffic. A strong recall can be the difference between life and death.
Start with your dog on a leash walking at your side (it’s easier to get her to come to you when she’s already moving). Then, take a quick step back and say your pooch’s name, followed by “Come!” As you’re saying this, pull gently on the leash to turn her around and have her start heading toward you. Once she’s facing you, continue to walk backward, coaxing her toward you. If she needs gentle urging, use the leash. Never scold her for coming too slowly. You can make this fun for both of you by approaching it with enthusiasm, as if you were playing a game. Don’t ask her to come in an angry voice or when you’re mad, or she’ll start associating the command with negativity. Reward her when she comes with a treat (it helps to offer something extra special and/or continue to give bits of treats for a full 30 seconds to teach your dog how much of a reward he gets by following this command).
Dogs learn that performing commands is often a gamble. They may get a treat as a reward, they may get praise, or they may get nothing. Ensure your dog will listen to you when call “come” by letting him know that the command always means a big reward. That means not using the command when you want your dog to follow you into the bedroom (unless you plan on offering treats and lavish praise). Use a different command for a casual in-house recall, like “over here” or “place.” Break out the “come” only to practice and when it’s really needed.
Tips for Responsible Dog Owners
This e-book is a great resource for anyone considering dog ownership or already owns a dog. Download for tips on how to be a responsible dog owner.