5 Tips on How to Teach Your Stubborn Dog to Come

Is your dog too stubborn and does it seemingly ignore you when you ask it to come?

The thing with dogs is that they are innately curious and can be easily distracted. This makes the ‘come’ command or the recall skill challenging to teach. Although we empathize with dog owners’ frustrations, we should also understand the simple fact that dogs are a different species that don’t understand your language. 

Most often, they are not being intentionally defiant or stubborn. But what can you do about this? Here, we share some of the most effective tips to teach your dog to come. 

1. Take advantage of the power of positive reinforcement.

In dog training, the use of positive reinforcement is necessary. At the start, it is recommended to use high-value dog treats that your pet doesn’t receive on a regular basis.

So the next time you shop for supplies, grab a bag of hot dog bites, cooked chicken, or jerky to use in your training. These nice treats will surely motivate your dog to do well in training.

2. Consider using non-food rewards as motivation.

When owners hear the word ‘rewards’ in the context of dog training, they automatically assume that it should be in the form of treats or food.

However, for most dogs, there are other motivators such as going for a walk. So try grabbing its leash to let it know that you’re going for a walk. Next, ask your dog to come and if it obeys, put on its leash and take it out even for just a short walk.

Now, if your dog doesn’t seem to get it immediately, don’t worry because soon enough it will associate the ‘come’ command with fun rewards such as playing catch and going out for walks. Further, petting your dog and praising it for good behavior and compliance can work as well.

Whatever type of reward you choose to give– be it treats, walks, or toys– the bottom line is to reinforce the command with something that makes your dog happy.

3. Take it easy and start training indoors first.

Before you take your dog outdoors without a leash or test its recall skill at the dog park, you need to ensure that it has already learned the ‘come’ command and obeys when you call your dog while inside the house. 

Don’t skip the stages of the process and start training indoors first. Remember, dogs get distracted easily and have amazingly powerful noses that kick into high gear when introduced to a new environment. So if your dog’s recall skill is a C at home, it sure will be an F when you take it outdoors.

Be patient and slowly work your way to 100% reliability before you try taking your dog outdoors without a leash. Before you start the outdoor training session, do a sniffing nose walk around the area first and let it explore. You can also warm up your dog by practicing with commands that it has already mastered before teaching the ‘come’ command.

4. Instead of just saying your dog’s name, make it a habit to say ‘come’ or ‘here’.

While at home, dog owners typically just call out their dog’s name to make sure it isn’t causing trouble or to know where it is. Although using your dog’s name captures its attention, technically, it doesn’t tell your dog what to do. So this practice is not recommended if you want to train your dog properly.

It might be difficult at first especially if you’re accustomed to just calling out your dog’s name. But with constant usage, you’ll get used to it eventually.

When you replace it with ‘come’ and your dog comes all the way to you, make sure that you reward it for a job well done.

5. Avoid creating a negative association with the ‘come’ command.

Picture this scenario: your dog is having a great time at the dog park, but then you have other things to do and it’s time to leave. You use the ‘come’ command so your dog will go towards you, then you put on its leash and guide it towards your car so you can go home.

Because your dog is having fun playing at the dog park, using the ‘come’ command in this manner could unintentionally create a negative association with the command. Your dog will learn that coming when called will result in something they don’t like– such as leaving the dog park. 

The same thing may be applicable for other scenarios such as bath time, drinking medicine, and getting groomed.

So be extra careful and avoid using the ‘come’ command to call your dog if the next thing that will happen is something that it doesn’t like. The best approach in situations described above is to be the one to go to your dog, put on its leash, and gently guide it.

Final Thoughts

Teaching your dog the recall skill or to respond to the ‘come’ command is one of the first skills that you should focus on. It’s literally a lifesaver as it can catch your dog’s attention and help you prevent your pet from getting into something poisonous or dangerous.

Once your dog successfully learns this skill, you’re both in for highly enjoyable off-leash hikes and fun trips to the dog park without any stress and hassle. 

Keep in mind that training your dog is not a simple task. Give it time to settle into its new environment and exercise a lot of patience. Understand that dogs don’t come equipped with a full understanding of your rules and your language. 

With constant repetition and regular practice, your dog will eventually learn basic skills such as this and understand boundaries. However, if you find it impossible to train your dog or you simply don’t have the time to spare, you can always hire a professional dog trainer.

These professionals have a lot of tricks up their sleeves to effectively teach your dog not only the ‘come’ command, but a whole lot more.