Here’s a few tips to get your dog to come consistently.1- Say “come” with authority. If you are “asking”, your dog will be less inclined to obey. 2- Practice, practice, practice. In the home, in the yard, at the dog park, when he’s expecting it (like after a sit-stay) and when he’s not expecting it (as you’re going about your business in the house). Use treats, praise, and petting interchangeably. 3- Do NOT get angry when your dog does not come. If you call for 20 minutes and THEN he decides he’s ready to come, you must still praise him when he finally does come. If you get angry with your dog and discipline him when you finally “get your hands on him”, he will be LESS inclined to come to you the next time because you have, in a sense, punished him for coming, so why would he come next time… 4- If you call and your dog does not come immediately, try running away from him. This triggers his chase mechanism and he will be inclined to follow. 5- Try to catch his attention auditorily if a straight-forward “come” doesn’t work. A whistle, trill, squeak, yip-yip, etc, may attract him. 6- Let him run. Scary as it may be if you are not in an enclosed space, sometimes if he runs (preferably in circles or around the perimeter of the house, not away), he’ll burn off that initial energy which is blocking him from listening. Wait a minute and try calling again.7- Use your body to block. Run towards your dog in such a way as cuts him off. Stay calm. If you choose to block, think of it not as trying to catch your dog, but trying to slow him down.

A word about treats. Treats condition your dog; they are a bribe. I do not believe in carrying them around with you everywhere because (1) that’s not realistic, and (2) because I want my dogs to obey me on the sole reason that I am their leader and not because I entice them to obey. I am my dog’s leader and I want them to trust my judgment. If you are not your dog’s pack leader, they will be more inclined to ignore your calling. Become your dog’s pack leader by following the suggestions put forth in this blog, but particularly by teaching your dog to heel as explained in the “Mastering the Walk” post.

Stay calm and persevere–your dog can learn this! Lead your dog.