People Fail their dogs all of the time, because “Come” is not easy!
If we take our time to teach, proof and expect the behavior they will come. Some dogs can be taught in a week most in 3-6 months. If you take the time right now and go through each step until they have it down and you are solid on your expectations of the command they will respond and come. Stop rushing the steps to come, help your dog be successful for a life time, it could save their life. The first thought each of you should have is what does come mean and what does my dogs name mean? For me my dogs name is a connective word, meaning look at me and start coming toward me. I want acknowledgement as well as movement that is my first expectation of their name. Come for me means get connected but you do not need to sit or touch me. I use the word “here” for my recall word. That means stop on a dime, get here and get here fast and sit so that I can make connection with you. Are you feeling the difference? Come = Connect with me Here = I need to connect with you.
Step 1: Keep your dog on a leash and connected to you all of the time. If you are not able to do that then your dog should be outside for some alone dog time, in its dog bed “place” or in its crate. You should keep the leash on until your dog is following you everywhere and getting into the rhythm of the house. Your dog should have connected behaviors such as laying at your feet while you are reading or sitting when you are rotating laundry. You see I hear all to many times “I don’t want my dog following me everywhere” This statement right here is how we fail our dog. Stop sending them away.
Step 2: Go out and start to wander through this world with your dog. This is an activity on following. Your dog should follow you and if they are not change directions. Not back and forth but around, this way and that. Never going in the direction your dog is going in. Turn your back on your dog and ask them to join you! After your dog is always following you start to add more distractions and then if they leave your side is the time to call your dog, stop, face them and call. Remember come=you need to connect with them.
Step 3: Targeting, there are many steps to targeting but the this teaches the command in your home so they understand the expectations. I would encourage you to join www.morethansit.com to find all of the steps to targeting. The concept is that your dog goes away from you to something of value and you call them off of the valued item. Just like in life there are so many valuable things out there to a dog.
Step 4: Proofing; Once you have wandered, kept you dog on a leash with you all of the time and taught targeting and you dog is glued to your side all of the time inside and outside of the house and you feel you no longer need the leash on, start to drop the leash the long line and the short regular leash. If they follow then add more and more distractions to the environment with the leash dropped. This is called proofing.
Step 5: Now that you feel you can go any where inside and outside and your dog is glued to your side you will then start to take 12 inches off of your leash each week. This is the stage people rush! If your dog needs 2 weeks at a certain length then keep it that length for a few weeks. You will find the shorter the leash becomes the more freedom your dog will take. So take this slow and steady, again don’t rush it! You will get to a point that you go out for an off leash hike and all you are doing is hooking a clip to the collar or a small tab and that may be there all summer. Remember we need to keep the picture strong in their mind that they are working and come/here you mean it.
I like to use my regular slip lead and just a 15 foot rope tied onto a clip so that I can cut it off when the time is right. Make it light weight but make sure it is comfortable in your hand. Stop sending your dog away from you, enjoy that they want to be with you and encourage it all of the time. You are a family!