Ask the Trainer with Andrea Arden

Andrea Arden Dog Training, New York City

QuestionMy dog listens to almost any other command except, “Come.” What techniques, using positive reinforcement, can fix this?


AnswerTeaching your dog to come when called, tops the obedience priority list, as it is the command most likely to ensure your dog’s safety. Show your dog that coming when called is the most rewarding game in town. Use favorite treats and toys exclusively as rewards and he will realize that his access to them corresponds to his response.

Start by teaching your dog indoors when he is most likely to enthusiastically participate, usually just prior to meals and playtime. Using your dog’s meal as reward, call him back and forth between family members seated five to ten feet apart, or toss a treat across the room and call your dog back to you once they have finished it.

When you start working outdoors, start by taking a few steps away from your dog and encourage him to turn around and head in your direction. When he gets to you, gently hold his collar and offer him a favorite treat/toy and praise. Continue your walk and practice every 20-30 feet, increasing the length of the lead as your dog begins to respond more reliably.

With practice and many opportunities for your dog to be rewarded for responding promptly, he will be well on his way to having a reliable off-leash recall.

Andrea Arden and NoraAbout the Trainer:

Andrea Arden is the author of numerous books, including Barron’s Bible of Dog Training, to be released in November 2011. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and currently serves on the Board of Animal Haven Shelter. Andrea shares her heart and home with two dogs (Nora and Moka) and two cats (Issa and Anya).

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