Mark,

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 dog.

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 with poor
>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?
>

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