The come command is one of the most important commands your dog needs to know.
Not only is the come important around the house and yard, but should he be out in front of your house, the come could save him from dashing into the street and getting hit by a car. If you take him out to run, or decide to do field or gun dog work with him, he must have a good, reliable come.
Because the come is so important, you will use two different techniques for teaching this command. The first method will use food treats to teach your Golden that the come is fun and will result in a treat. Take a small plastic container and put some dog food bits in it so that it makes a nice rattling sound. Then, have some treats in hand that you know your dog really likes—something special. Shake the container and ask your dog if he wants a treat, using the word he already knows for treat, such as cookie, biscuit, or bone. Say, “Spot, do you want a cookie?” Then pop a treat into his mouth. This, combined with shaking the container, teaches your dog that the sound of the container equals a treat.
Do this for several days until your dog comes running whenever he hears the container rattling. At that point, you can shake the container and say, “Spot, Cookie! Come!” This builds a relationship between the words cookie and come. After a few days, drop the word cookie altogether, simply shake the container, and say, “Spot, come!” and pop a treat in his mouth.
Practice this command two or three times per training session, several times a day. Don’t do it too many times at once or it will lose its appeal. Some people have reservations about this technique as they are worried that their dog will not come to them when they don’t have a treat.
First of all, you will be using two different techniques to teach your Golden to come for that reason. Later, when your dog is coming reliably every time you call him, you will be able to get rid of the treats, although it is important to use them as long as you need them.
In the meantime, using the treats often will help build a good habit; the habit of returning to you each and every time you call. In addition, this technique, when taught properly, can produce a strong and reliable come.
Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.