Our dog Max, an 18-month-old GSD, is nearly perfect EXCEPT when we call him to come. Whether he is out or inside, walking or playing he acts like he doesn’t hear us when we call “come.”
This causes us frustration because he could be in harm’s way but he doesn’t stop what he is doing when he is off leash.
He has had basic training and we are with him walking, playing, hanging out everyday. The only exception to this behavior is when he goes somewhere in the truck, my husband can say “let’s go” and he jumps in! –Diana
You are right to be frustrated with this behavior, more probably due to the fact that when you cannot rely on your dog to come, it can cause you a lot of fear that he could get hurt.
The way I teach come before we move to off leash work is teaching it on lead. You mentioned that he is nearly perfect in all other ways so I am assuming you give him the benefit of the doubt by allowing him off leash.
Here’s what I recommend on leash:
1. Start by asking your dog for a sit and stay.
2. While your dog is in a stay, turn and face him repeating the stay command.
3. Praise him if he is staying and take a step back.
4. Each time you step back to the end of the lead and he is staying, praise him.
5. When you get to the end of the leash keep him on a stay for a moment.
6. Ask him to come while you are backing up.
7. When he comes to you, praise him; if he does not come you have the leash to direct him.
8. Repeat 3-5 times and go about your day. Repeat the series 4-5 times a day.
9. Each day you can move back a little farther from your dog.
10. You can attach two leashes together as well to increase the distance but still have control over your dog.
By doing this exercise, this will help you and your dog build your energy connection at further distances and that will develop a deeper trust and respect and your dog will be off leash in no time in a safe way.
Alecia Evans, PDT, MA
Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes.
The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine, DogTipper.com, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.