One of the most common complaints among dog owners is their dogs' recall; or lack thereof.
Most dog owners would never dream of letting their dog off a leash because they are terrified that their beloved fur child will never come back. Even though there are leash laws everywhere it is vital for every dog have a reliable recall!!
The biggest mistake I see people making when working COME is that they have the wrong attitude about come. It is vital to practice COME on a regular basis if you want your dog to return to you if they should slip their leash or sneak out the door. I teach my clients to use their dogs name instead of the word COME. The reason for this is that most dogs associate something positive with their name and COME HERE with something negative. Whether you are in the house, on a walk, or in a pet store try and say your dog's name and then reward him/her. Having your fur child associate his/her name with something positive is only the first step. The next step is to start adding more distractions and higher value distractions in various locations.
When working a dog's recall it is very important to know what motivates your dog in certain situations. This means that if your dog wants to go see a person then you need to use praise as your reward, if it's a random pizza crust then use your dog's favorite treat, and if it's a little critter or other dog use a toy as the reward. When working recall I recommend having a 30+ long cotton rope, special treats (lunch meat, cheese, etc), and a toy that your dog ONLY gets at the park (dog safe Frisbee, tug toy, etc.).
Take your dog to different locations with a various amounts of distractions. It is VERY important not to let your dog get to any of the distractions when starting out. This will require you to pay attention to how much slack is in the rope. You will become frustrated very quickly if you allow your dog to play with a dog when working COME. When you first start working COME it is not reasonable to expect your dog to leave another dog or that tasty pizza crust.
To start simply walk around a large open space and let your dog sniff and experience the world. For your dog to learn your value you must first allow him/her to see and smell the world. This is the longest process of working the recall, especially if you have a dog that has never been allowed off a leash. While you and your dog walk around reward your dog with your marker word every time he/she looks at you. If he/she starts to come over to you say his/her name, smile, and give your fur baby a big reward!!
At first don't use any LEAVE-IT's or NO, only reward your dog for being with you. Over time you can start to call your dog before he/she looks at you and using LEAVE-IT when your dog sees something they want. It is important to remember that the more you say your dog's name and he/she ignores you the less reliable the recall will be. The best thing you can do while working COME is to be patient and say very little.
As your dog becomes more reliable off leash you can start adding a voice correction when they think about darting or get stuck at a smell. The voice correction is ONLY intended as an interruption. So when the dog looks at you make sure you smile and reward him/her. The worst thing you can do is punish your dog when he/she does finally return to you. No matter how long it takes you need to make sure you are happy. Now I do understand that is VERY hard at times and I myself have yelled at a dog after they ran off, but do your best to control your anger. If your dog gets punished every time they return to you, common sense says don't come!!