Let’s make it more of a challenge for your dog to come to you. For the first time, you are going to be doing what’s called a controlled distraction exercise.
You will need two people for this exercise. If it is not possible to get another person, then set up the training so that your dog is distracted by a toy stuffed with food, food in a paper bag, etc. Dog leaves someone or something with food and goes to you. One person is the so-called “handler” and the other is the “distracter”. The handler has nothing, no treats, no toys, nothing. The distracter does. He has everything that your dog could possibly like; cheese, toys, liver cubes!
The person who is the distracter goes up to your dog and shows him that he has all of these great things. BUT, that person does NOT give them to your dog. The handler should then show the dog that they do not have anything on them, walk a short distance away and enthusiastically call the dog, “Buddy, come!”. Don’t worry, it’s normal if your dog is ignoring the handler @ this point and not coming when called. This is hard! It’s the first time that you have (or should have) called your dog when they were this heavily distracted.
The distracter should ignore the dog and all of his efforts to get the good loot. The handler should try to call the dog 1-2 times during a 1-2 minute time period. Make sure that the distracter is controlling the goodies and NOT giving them to the dog. Sooner or later your dog will begin to experiment by moving towards the handler who is calling him. When he does the handler must praise the dog with each step he takes closer.
When the dog arrives @ the handler’s position, the distracter Immediately runs over & gives one yummy treat to the dog & the toy to the handler for a play session with the dog. THIS IS THE KEY TO THE EXERCISE!
Then the distracter goes away for a second round to repeat the exercise. The dog learns over time that the way to get what the distracter has is to do what the handler is saying!
Please note: This takes time and patience.
Your dog runs to the handler before he is called. Ignore him. You do NOT want to reprimand your dog for any mistakes with the “come” command.
- Alternate roles of handler and distracter.
- Vary locations of where you practice this.
- Randomly change the value of the treats.