This is such an important skill for all dogs. Come when called is essential when out and about and most challenging when at the dog park or on the beach. Start off by getting your dog’s attention by calling her name ‘Lily’, (show her the love’em treat, bend forward slightly) and hold out your arms to welcome her calling ‘come’ as you run back a few steps. She’ll almost certainly come running towards you. Hold the treat right next to your leg so she needs to come right up to you. As she does, smile, praise enthusiastically and reward her with the love’em treat immediately and restrain her by taking hold of the collar from underneath (not over the head) and release after a few seconds. Keep practicing this from different rooms in the house and progress outside to the yard, the park, the beach. Remember to build up in this way to slowly increase the distractions to make it easier for her to learn.
For your dog’s safety whilst training , keep her on a lead at all times. As you progress to the park or the beach, switch to a long light lead or a retractable lead to give more freedom but still being sure she doesn’t run away whilst in training. When you do progress to being off the lead, it’s important that, when she comes to you when called, as you praise her and give her the treat, you clip on the lead and then release again. This helps to ensure she doesn’t associate coming to you with the loss of her freedom. The key to mastering this one is making yourself more interesting and exciting than other distractions and treat enthusiastically when she gets it right.
Young pups see you as the centre of their world and will naturally return to you when anything new appears. Use this time well to start establishing come when called. We new owners can fall into the trap of thinking our new pup is so well trained. As they move to teenager independence of 6 months onwards, they will not be so likely to naturally return to you, so this is a skill that requires constant practice. If they get it wrong, don’t punish when you finally get them back (as frustrated as you may feel). Clip them on the lead and do a few exercises to get them listing to you again – sit, stay, drop etc. Then ask them to come while still on the lead.