come on command

Posted by queenterri
Aug 7, 2009
Marcel, miniature poodle, 7 months old, will not come on command. Nor, will he come at all when I call him, even for treats. When I got him, he was very timid, but even with training and treats, it looks like he doesn't understand.
Posted by KOPsarah
Aug 10, 2009
Hi queen Terri, and thanks for your post

The recall command “Come” is one of the most important commands you can teach your dog. It’s also one of the hardest on your dog. Whenever you ask him to “Come”, you’re asking him to leave something enjoyable and interesting to return to you. That’s a pretty big ask - and one of the most common complaints we hear is about dogs not coming when called.
The only way to ensure that your dog will “Come” every time is to spend a lot of time practicing and training in a variety of situations, and with varying levels of distraction, to ensure that he learns to respond to “Come” in every situation.

When training, you should never give a command that you cannot immediately reinforce if your dog doesn’t give the desired response. For example, calling your dog to “Come” while he’s playing with another dog, chasing squirrels, or is far away from you is courting failure. If he doesn’t respond, there’s nothing you can do to enforce the command, so in effect you’re teaching him to ignore the command. Follow the pointers below to increase the effectiveness of your training:

Common mistakes to avoid when teaching “Come”
-Don’t work on the ‘Come’ command with your dog OFF the leash until she is 100% reliable ON the leash – in a wide range of situations and a variety of leash lengths.
-Use a cheery tone of voice when you call him, to make yourself an attractive prospect.
-Keep your posture welcoming when he’s still learning. If you squat down and open your arms out wide it will help to forge the association in his mind between the command and the desired action. Most dogs respond instinctively to this. With some dogs excitedly moving backwards is more effective as this makes coming more of a game.
-Do not repeat commands. When you ask your dog to “Come”, say the word once. If he doesn’t respond, reinforce it with a leash flick.
-Don’t overuse his name or eventually he’ll become immune to the sound of it.

Key training tip:
As soon as your dog starts walking towards you, praise him in a low, encouraging tone of voice. “Goooood boy, what a goooood boy!” You want to praise him as he’s heading your way, so he associates the praise with walking in your direction. Keep your voice steady and low-pitched. Put a smile on your face for added effect. Overly-enthusiastic praise tends to distract the dog from what he’s doing.

The moment he reaches you, get that treat in his mouth as fast as you can. Some dogs prefer a short game with a cherished toy as an alternative reward to food treats: you’ll figure out which of these your dog prefers as training progresses.

Good luck and all the best,