While there are lots of commands you may choose to teach your dog, most agree that teaching your dog to come when called (the “recall command”) is the most important. For safety reasons, you want to be confident that your dog will consistently and readily return to you when called. Until your dog has reliably mastered this command, you should not let your dog off leash in a public place.
After hearing the recall command, a dog should immediately stop whatever he is doing, turn towards you, and consciously make the decision to return to you. You may begin using a toy or treat to get his attention; as he moves towards you, say the command “Come” and reward him with treats, praise or play when he is successful. If you cannot entice your dog to come towards you, you can begin with your dog on a lead using gentle tugs to encourage the behavior. As your dog understands the meaning of the recall command, you may slowly increase the distance of the recall.
Even if your dog has done something naughty, you should never punish him when he responds to the recall command; he should always anticipate a happy, positive response when he returns to you. Continue to practice the recall command in different places and situations until your dog has mastered the command.
Does your dog reliably come when called?