How to Train Your Dog to Come

Like “Heel,” “Come Front” is taught as a position near you. This time, your dog should be facing you and looking up. Whether you’re calling your dog from two feet away or across the yard, he should come and sit down, paws facing toes, eye to eye. To teach your dog what “Come” is all about, start with a simple exercise that you’ll use throughout the day. Practice it in the house to start.


If you must position your dog, lift his collar gently and squeeze his waist muscles below his ribs as you press down. Avoid jerky motions and pressing his backbone.

Australian Shepherd Playing
Australian Shepherd Playing

Do not command as you position:

  1. Walk in front of your dog while he’s standing calmly.
  2. Standing tall, say “Name, Come” as you tap your foot and zip your finger up your belly from his nose level to your eyes. Make a funny sound to encourage focus.
  3. If he comes but doesn’t sit, guide him into the proper position by lifting up on his buckle collar and tucking his hind quarters into position.
  4. Once your dog sits and makes eye contact, give him a big hug!

Repeat this exercise throughout the day, whenever you have something positive to share—a pat, treat, dinner, or toy. Make sure your dog’s first associations to this word are warm and welcoming.

Distance Control:

Distance Control
Distance Control

No, you’re not off-lead yet. Be patient. Prerequisite? Your dog must understand that “Come” means a specific spot in front of you, looking up. Did mission accomplish? Practice this exercise in a quiet room. No TV. No kids. No cats. Keep your lesson short and upbeat:

  1. Practice three regular “Sit-Stays.” Return to your dog’s side and release him with an “OK!”
  2. Leave your dog in a “Stay” and walk out to the end of the leash.
  3. Pause. Vary the duration each time.
  4. Call “Name”, Come” in a directional tone. Signal it by sweeping your right arm across your body.
  5. As soon as you’ve issued the command, scurry backward and reel in the leash.
  6. When he gets near your feet, signal up your belly and tap your heel to the floor (as described earlier) to encourage a “Sit” finish.
  7. Encourage eye contact by standing tall and making kissing sounds.
  8. Release him with “OK.” Good dog!

Practice “Come” three times per session. That’s all. More is stressful. Remember to blend each “Come” call with a few regular “Sit-Stays.” If you don’t, your dog will break his “Stay” early to please you. Sweet thing.

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