Dogs will come when called if they don’t have anything better to do. Much like children, a dog will want to continue to keep sniffing around and ignore your calls until you take the initiative to chase him down and drag him back by his collar. To get your dog to come when you call him, you need patience, rewards, and a lot of consistency.
My dog used to (and sometimes still does) look right at me when I would gently call her and continue to wander about the yard and just sniff around, doing nothing but irritate the heck out of me. I quickly learned that over-calling her just resulted in her ignoring my every command, and that calling her while she was already coming to me got me the results I wanted.
Calling your dog to you while they’re obviously already doing it is a great training start. It reinforces what the command means, and your dog gets to come inside because they’re ready and get rewarded for it with praise and maybe a treat. Soon, by doing this even a puppy will come running when you call for them, knowing petting and treats are available! Yay!
You can also start training your dog to come when commanded by beginning in the home, where they don’t have outside stimulation and nowhere to wander off to. Call your dog, “Come!” and pat your leg or whatever, and when they come praise them like they just saved China. Doing this gets your dog more encouraged to come when they are outdoors, where you need the command to be utilized the most.
If you have a stubborn dog, or a dog that dodges you, don’t walk toward the dog, which encourages them to keep dodging you. Rather, crouch down to their level, gently yet firmly calling them to you. This helps to not intimidate the dog and encourage them to come forward. Get their attention by snapping or whistling, and gently command, “Come!” Your dog may dodge or ignore you at first, but stay where you are, commanding them until they do come to you. Don’t go to them unless they are in a dangerous situation. Have them come to you even if it takes 15 minutes, and gently grasp their collar and lead them indoors, singing praises. Even if you want to throttle your dog because it took you a half hour to get them inside, they DID come, and deserve that praise for it. Just like a child, a dog who knows he’s in trouble will avoid you. Before long, even the most hyper dog who runs circles around you will know you mean business when you crouch down to their level, get their attention and tell them to “Come!”
When you’re at a park and your dog continuously runs away from you, shout “Come!” and try the crouching routine. If this doesn’t work, try it again, and if it fails again to get your dog to respond, turn and head in another direction. Your dog will lose his mind that you are “abandoning” him and quickly come to you, to which you can gently grasp his collar, give him great praise, and go about your business of getting him leashed and home. Don’t brandish the leash when calling your dog- this just gives them incentive not to come.
Don’t EVER chase your dog unless, once again, it’s a dangerous situation he’s in, like a busy road or dangerous dogs are nearby. Chasing only encourages your dog not to come to you.
Don’t yell at your dog when they finally do come to you. This just tells them it’s OK to wander because they’ll get yelled at or punished whether they come to you or not. You want your dog to think coming to you is a good thing.
The walking away tactic works to train your dog to walk with you off-leash as well. My dog wanders about 3 feet away from me and looks to make sure I’m still there, because on our walks as a puppy and she wandered off, I would wander the other way. She now stays close to make sure I don’t “abandon” her.
Don’t ever strike a dog for any reason. This goes without saying, but a dog who doesn’t come to you when called at first can make you want to beat them senseless. Stay calm and patient- it WILL pay off.
You need to be consistent, and call your dog to you often, even just to make sure he will. I often call my dog in the yard for no reason just to praise her on obeying the command. The more you use it, the more they obey it, and the less often your dog will ignore you when you call them.