Teaching a dog for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have never done it before. There’s always this anxiety that you’re doing some incorrectly because you’re not getting the results that you want. There are also instances when dog owners feel that they’re not really teaching the dog anything because the dog always gets distracted.
If you have been in similar situations before, know that you’re not alone and that with sufficient conditioning your dog will be able to follow and retain commands and skills.
How to Start with Come Command
Start by practicing indoors or in a fenced backyard, where there aren’t too many tempting distractions. If your dog sticks to your side like glue and you can’t get far enough away to ask her to come, have a friend hold your dog while you take a few steps away from her.
With a treat in your hand, back up a few feet, squat down, and open your arms in a welcome gesture, waggling the treat and telling her “come!” in an enthusiastic, happy tone of voice.
As soon as your dog starts moving in your direction, praise and encourage her in a warm, positive tone: “Atta girl! Gooood dog!” If she stops or starts wandering away from you, immediately stop the praise. When she starts coming toward you again, start in once more.
When your dog makes it all the way to you, offer the tasty treat as well as enthusiastic praise and pets. Then tell your dog, “Go play!” and let her go back to whatever she was doing for a minute or so.
Repeat the exercise.
Once your dog has practiced the recall a few times, start offering treats sporadically, only after the fastest recalls. Eventually you can phase out food rewards completely–although praise and pets are of course always appreciated, and they help cement in your dog’s brain that coming when called is a good thing.