dog training, dog behavior, dog health

Tricks for Teaching Your Dog to "Come" to You

There are few things as frustrating to a dog owner as calling your pet "Fido, come" while Fido totally ignores you or gives you a quick look and then proceeds to continue with what he's doing.   Using traditional training methods, you can teach the dog what you want him to do - but that doesn't mean it will happen. Your dog need to first understand what it is you want when you say his name, followed by the command "come" but he also must learn that it is not optional.

Your dog will get the idea if you simply use your tone of voice in an encouraging way, say "come" when he comes toward you and then reward him with a small treat and praise when he arrives.  This teaches him that the command to come to you means something good will happen when he gets there.  When you are outside it will work at times and at other times you'll be ignored in favor of an interesting smell on the next clump of grass.

Even a canine that usually understands and obeys may get out of range in that in a large open space there seems to be a mental line for some dogs.  At a certain distance they happily run to you when you call them.  A bit farther away they may demonstrate a stubborn independence.  This poses a risk for a pet that has wondered close to a busy street or onto a neighbor's property.

The first solution is the projectile method.  The preferred tool to use is a small fabric beanbag.  This can easily be made from any fabric and the beans are to add weight so that it makes an impression on the animal and also can be tossed or thrown more accurately.  It's an amazingly simple training tool that gives fast results.  It works best with medium to large breed dogs simply because they present  a larger target.  This is a training solution that is best conducted out of doors in a confined space such as a fenced yard.

With the beanbag (or two if your aim is poor) in your hand, wait until your pet is busy investigating a new scent trail or tree.  Call him by name and say "come" one time clearly and sharply.  Give him a few seconds to respond.  If he ignores you, say his name and the command a second time and immediately toss (not throw) the beanbag so that it lands on his back.  In most cases, the dog will immediately trot over to you; at first you may need to issue the command a third time right after tossing the bag. 

Most dogs aren't stupid.  If you have done the first steps by communicating what it is you want the animal to do when you say that command - he knows what you want.  He also knows you are "over there" and thinks you can't make him do it until he is good and ready to come to you.  The beanbag is not meant, nor should it be used, to hurt the dog.  It's meant to get his attention and let him know that you CAN reach him.  He's not quite sure what just happened but knows somehow you were able to reach him.

It doesn't have to be a beanbag but the point is to have something in your hand that has enough weight to it that it can be accurately tossed but that will not cause any pain.  It also needs to be something the dog doesn't realize is there in your hand.  It is the surprise factor that makes this silly sounding method work and it usually takes only a few times with this procedure to get the results you want.  Just remember when the dog does come to you, give a treat and praise.  Once he has mastered the command, praise will be enough to reinforce it.