What is the best way to teach my dog to come?
Happily, it’s not as difficult as it seems. For starters, I recommend giving the cue “here” rather than “come.” The word “come” is used often in day-to-day conversation (come on, come here, come over, etc.) and it can easily lose meaning if your dog hears it out of context.
Begin by giving the cue “here” at a time you’re sure your dog will to come to you or when she has no choice but to do so (for example, you’re at opposite ends of a hallway and you’re holding something that smells delicious).
Lavish her with encouragement and praise as she runs toward you, and once she arrives at your feet, reward her with her favorite treats and toys. Repeat this exercise, each time giving something different so that she never knows what to expect. Your dog will quickly start to realize that coming here is worth her while.
It’s important to realize that behavior will fluctuate–dogs’ recall won’t be perfect every time (especially during the adolescent stage). In general, people give dogs far too much freedom, far too soon. Freedom should be earned.
If your dog is permitted the run of the yard, chasing animals and sneaking in and out of a doggie door all day long, you can bet her recall won’t be reliable; the outdoors is going to be much more rewarding to a dog than a bit of cookie. It is possible, though, to ensure a clean and consistent recall: just make certain the reward you’re providing is more valuable than anything your dog could get on her own.