Teaching your puppy/dog to "come" on command is an essential skill. It is so important that consistency in training this skill may one day save your dog's life.

The number one most important thing to remember when teaching your dog to come is that you only use the command when you can make sure that your dog comes when called. In other words, never call your puppy/dog to come unless you know it will comply 100% of the time. You make this happen by using a long line when first training this skill so that you can grab it and reel your dog in to you if needed. Also, begin training this skill in an enclosed area so that puppy/dog is safely contained. Safety first when working any skill that will eventually have your dog off leash.

Another thing to understand when teaching the come command is you must be animated and excited. Your dog must believe that you are the best thing in the environment and interacting with you will be more fun than anything else it could do.

One more thing, never call your dog to you using the come command then do something negative to the dog. For example, never say "come", then scold your puppy/dog, put t in a crate and leave, clip a leash on it taking away its freedom, etc. If you must do something negative with your dog, such as punish them, put them in a crate, or take something away from them, then go to your puppy/dog, don't call them to you. If you do call your puppy/dog using "come" when you are upset and your puppy/dog comes, never scold them. Always reward your puppy/dog for complying!

Here are the steps to teaching your puppy/dog to come:

  1. First, use mark/reward training to teach your dog that "yes" means what you did just now is good.
  2. Teach your dog to look at you when you say its name, name recognition. Say your dog's name. When it looks at you, say "yes", then reward. Do this over and over until your dog consistently looks at your when you say its name.
  3. On a long line, wait until your dog is distracted, then say your dog's name. When it looks at you, run backwards away from your dog in an excited way. You want the dog to be excited to join in the chase with you. When the dog gets to you (as close to you as possible, even touching your foot with its foot), then mark "yes" and reward.
  4. Once your dog consistently looks at you when you say its name, and runs after you in a fun game of chase, then add the word "come" just before the chase game. Do this repeatedly for at least ten training sessions.
  5. After your dog consistently looks at you, then comes to chase just after you say the word "come", then move away from your dog with less animation and retreating distance. You want your dog to maintain its enthusiasm for coming to you, so make sure the reward it receives once it reaches you is a large bountiful harvest of food/play/praise rewards. In dog training, we call this a "jackpot".
  6. Repeat step five until your dog comes to you even when you do not move backwards much at all.
  7. Make a different fun game for training "come" by having a friend hold your dog while you run away. Say "come" then have the friend release your dog. Holding a dog back builds anticipation and excitement for the recall.
  8. You can make the recall game in step number seven more challenging by moving farther and farther away from your dog before you give the "come" command. Don't move too quickly, though, and always make sure your dog will complete the activity correctly before making it more challenging.

Here is a video from our friends at McCann Dog Training to help you understand the initial concepts involved in this training work:

Teach Your Dog to Come Back (Without Being the Fun Police)

If you want more videos to help you, here is a playlist of other videos that will help you.