The come command is one of the most elusive commands that many humans tend to struggle with. They seem to think that it is because of the ineptitude of the dog that he/she is unable to figure out how to answer to such a simple command when it is actually a manifestation of bonehead syndrome in humans.
I am sure I will have to hammer this repeatedly into your fur-less forehead but the key is consistency! Ya, that's right don't keep changing the rules! Your canine companion really isn't trying to drive you nuts. (...well unless hes a mischievous Malamute like me!)
Teaching a dog to come
The first step in teaching this command is to figure out what you want to call it and to call it that EVERY time. Dogs don't speak fluent human. We can't interpret every synonym of "come" unless you teach it to us...
Hey! Don't give me me that look! Talk to me when YOU can speak fluent dog, until then you can't complain that we don't speak human!
Choose a command word
Anyway, ya, choose a word and stick with it. And yes, as far as we are concerned, "come" and "come here" are two different words. You can really choose any word you want, we don't care as long as you are consistent. However, "come" does work nicely for when it's time for someone to babysit your pooch, don't make them guess your magic language...
Next comes the training. Never train the "come" command unless you can enforce it every time. The best way to do this is to attach a long leash to the dog's collar and just let it sit on the ground. If he or she ignores your command use the leash to pull them forward so that they are forced to adhere to your command.
There needs to be a reward for each and every successful "come". Even if you have to use the leash to enforce the command it is important that every time your dog comes to you they are rewarded. There needs to be no doubt that coming to see their human is always a positive thing.
It is up to you if you want to use affection or some other reward such as a treat or a toy but remember that we four leggeds are not stupid! If you teach us that every time we come the reward is a treat you better have one or don't expect us to listen! This is why affection is usually the best reward as you always have it to give.
Until your dog has learned the come command and can perform it with 100% accuracy you should not be using it unless you can enforce it otherwise you risk confusing your pooch.
Yes... this means that it will take you more than 15minutes! Practice everyday for a week or two before you even think about trying without the leash.
Common Human Mistakes
A human named Einstein made a very accurate discovery many years ago. He claimed that only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. Boy was he right! Some of the silly things people do while trying to train their dog makes me wonder how the first pink-skin ever figured out how to walk! Here are a few (obvious) mistakes that you humans seem to make:
Dog are not hard of hearing so don't keep repeating the command over and over. If your dog does not listen the first time it is because he or she has decided not to! Trust me your command was heard. Never repeat a command, if you are not listened to on the first try you need to enforce the command with the leash.
Never scold a dog for coming. A successful come should ALWAYS be greeted with praise. If your dog has misbehaved and you need to scold them do not tell them to "come". You must go to them and perform your correction. If your dog does something bad, is told to "come", and then is given negative reinforcement the dog will associate the "come" command with the punishment rather than the actual action that provoked your wrath.
Always provide some sort of reward. Some dogs are more obedient than others but I will tell you right now if there isn't anything in it for me I am not going to listen! Have you ever tried telling a human to "come?" They don't listen either unless they have a reason to!
Practice in a controlled environment. Mistakes happen, don't risk your dog's safety by trying to depend on the "come" command before the dog is ready.
The come command is one of the simplest commands to teach if done properly. It is also one of the most important commands as it can often play the key role in keeping your dog safe! Spend the time to teach it properly.
Take some time to make sure your dog knows the "come" command and can answer to it on the first try. Every time.