Yours is a very common problem. You failed to mention the age,
level of training and breed of your dog- all of which can impact
on the degree of difficulty in training your dog.
A reliable "come" is the culmination and fruition of a
trusting master-dog relationship. It is not easily attained- but
when you have it you will have made an important step towards
building a trusting and enduring lifetime relationship with your
First of all: tricks don't work. Do you really think the average
dog is that stupid? The above average dog will have you for
dinner!!!. A dog should be doing reliable AND immediate off leash
sit/stays and downs prior to teaching the "come"
command. Reliable Down/stays when you are at least 15-25 feet
away. You will probably have to build up to this- starting only a
few feet away and gradually increasing. It will also help if the
dog has a desire to retrieve (See below).
Play, fun, praise and repetition are the keys. Put your dog in a
down/stay. Insure the dog is focused on you. Under no
circumstances raise your tone of voice to in anyway cause him to
want to avoid you. Move 15-20 feet away (at what ever distance he
is reliable for the down/stay). Give the "come" command
(verbal AND hand signals). Gradually increase distances and/or
distractions. As the dog comes, give the down/stay (verbal AND
hand signals). Demand IMMEDIATE obedience and attention. Resume
the come, having the dog do 1-5 down/stays on the way to reaching
you. When the dog reaches you (within a foot), position him
squarely in front of you and give the sit command. Upon immediate
execution of the sit, praise profusely and lovingly. Get down to
your dog's level (height), look into your dog's eyes (if he does
not feel threatened or is not intent on being dominant) and talk
to him. Reinforce the praise. Make sure you have your dog's
attention as you talk to him. Tell your dog what you expect of
him. Though these last steps may appear non-sensical- they are
not. The very act of sustained attention will help focus your dog
and YOU. The actual words probably don't make a difference-
though thought projection may be helpful (Barbara Woodhouse- the
world's greatest dog trainer believed in human/animal telepathy).
Don't underestimate your dog's capacity to understand. When you
give praise- give it with a positive, fun voice and plenty of
inflection and range. "Reinforce" "comes"
with retrieves using a "looser" more fun command to
tell your dog to finish the retrieve. If he strays or ignores you
for more than two seconds, give an immediate down/stay and then
give the stricter "come" command. Upon completion of a
retrieve make sure the retrieved object (dog must not be able to
swallow the retrieved object) is released directly into your
hand, not merely dropped on the ground. Again, upon correct
completion of the retrieve give plentiful praise.
Bottom line, your dog must develop an ability to focus, trust you
and have a strong desire to please. A desire that is stronger
than the temptation of temporary diversions. The entire goal of
training is to teach your dog to focus and concentrate- to
develop his mental faculties. If the average human child was
given the quality and degree of mental stimulation and training
the average dog is given, the human would never get past the
mental level of a two year old!. The average dog is capable, in
my opinion of coming close to the mental level of a 5 year old
human child- in some respects less, in other respects greater.
Ultimately he will concentrate on pleasing you and this will
become the main goal of his life. When you have achieved this you
will have a GREAT dog- like the one I have. Again, in 99.9% of
cases it is the owner's not the dog's deficiencies and ignorance
that are at the root of the problem.
>I have tried everything to get my dog to come when called but
>results. I have used a long line, food rewards, praise, and
allowing him to
>return to play. None of these have worked, he just acts like
he has not
>heard me. Any ideas?