Obedience Training: COME command

Regardless where your dog is or what he is doing, he should come to you and SIT directly in front of you when called and wait for further direction. Read and understand all the steps prior to teaching your dog COME.

The COME command exemplifies your dog’s overall understanding of your rules, clarity, and consistency, as well as the respect level he has for you. Your dog will COME when called if your relationship is positive and well balanced.

COME is the position of being within the same two-foot-to-a-side square but positioned directly in front of you. When called to COME, your dog should stop whatever he is doing and immediately proceed into the square and SIT. Your dog should remain in the SIT until released or given another command. The command has the same meaning regardless of how far (or close) your dog is to you.

Teach the COME Command

The hand signal for COME is a motion with your right hand, similar to sweeping poker winnings off the table and into your lap. Your right hand starts shoulder height with arm extended fingertips. Sweep your hand toward the center of your chest.

Stand approximately two feet directly in front of your dog with your dog in a SIT. Grasp the leash with your left hand with minimum slack between your dog and your hand. Give the hand signal and command COME simultaneously and then move quickly backwards, motivating your dog to COME. Stop the backwards movement and give your dog a SIT command. Praise, saying “good COME,” and offer a small treat.

Reinforce the COME Command

You can reinforce the COME command with a stationary recall. Begin with your dog in a SIT or DOWN and step away from your dog (keep the leash in your left hand). As you practice position holding by walking around your dog, pause and face your dog. Give the COME command (verbal and hand signal). Praise verbally and with food for a good recall. If your dog does not respond immediately, correct with NO and re-command COME.

Do not cheat for your dog by giving a leash signal or by calling his name. Make sure your dog is performing this command completely on his own. If your dog anticipates your recall command, reposition him, correct, and re-command him. Desensitize by moving around, facing your dog and pausing.

Recall your dog from all positions, especially the positions with your dog facing away from you, as this keeps your dog on his toes.

Try very hard not to use the COME command at any other time. The COME command has a specific action associated with it and using the casual “come” will dilute the effectiveness of the command.

Even though your dog may understand the obedience command COME, he may still choose to ignore you from time to time. It is important to understand the use of this command from the dog’s point of view. Frequently, we call our dogs to us for negative reasons, at least in the dog’s eyes — coming in from the outside, being called to the crate, or calling them when you want to take something away from them. It is very important to use the COME command for many more positive reasons than negative.

To establish a speedy yard recall, you will need a thirty-foot leash (not a retractable leash). Every time you go outside with your dog, put him on this long leash. Walk around the yard with your dog and every few minutes or so, give him the COME command. As your dog returns to your front, praise and give a treat. If he does not return, give the corrective NO and repeat the command COME. Reel your dog in if necessary and always praise for completing the command. Repeat this exercise at least ten times every night for three months. Add the thirty-foot leash recall to your ongoing obedience-training workout.