Teaching your dog to come when called is probably the most important command he can learn. It may very well be a life-saver.
Never ask your dog to come to you in anger or for punishment or to do something he may find unpleasant. The come command should always be a pleasant and rewarding experience.
The day you start training, don’t give your dog any treats before the session begins.
Start by offering your dog a treat. Then back up a few feet. Give the command to come using a friendly, happy voice with your hand extended with the treat at the dog’s eye level. When your dog obeys give the treat immediately. Repeat this several times. Then have your dog sit when he comes and offer the treat with lots of praise.
Do this exercise daily at times when your dog will be highly motivated by food.
When your dog continues to respond well, you might want to cut back on the treats. Don’t offer them each time your dog comes. Instead praise lavishly.
You can then make a game of the come command. Have someone stand several yards away from you. Then one of you calls the dog to come and has him sit and stay. Then the other person does the same. Do this several times – it’s fun for your dog and for you.
You can teach your dog to come find you when you are out of sight. Go into another room and give the command to come. When your dog responds, praise lavishly.
You can advance to training your dog to come when there are distractions such as other dogs, people, noises, traffic, etc.
Start in an area where your dog won’t face many distractions. Using a long leash give your dog some freedom before giving the come command. If your dog doesn’t respond, a short tug on the leash with the command will work. Praise your dog whenever he responds. Release him to play and repeat the action.
As your dog responds well, you can add distractions and continue the training. When your dog responds almost always, it’s time for a trip to the dog park and some off leash fun.
When it’s time to leave the dog park or the beach or wherever, call your dog, but don’t leash him immediately. Make enough time to interact so your dog won’t associate your calling him with ending the fun time he’s having.
Never let your dog off leash outside of permitted areas. It’s dangerous and it’s against the law.
As with all commands, practice makes perfect. Train until your dog obeys each time. And then keep reminding your dog of the command, using it at some point daily.
If your dog appears tired or is becoming bored, stop the training. Fifteen minutes of training several times a day works well.
Continue practicing these exercises as often as you can. You’ll be rewarded with a well-behaved dog.