"My dog comes when I call them . . . sometimes." As a trainer, this is something I hear all the time! If your dog isn't reliably coming when called, try out some of the following tips. If you need some extra help, contact a certified trainer in your area.
1. Practice, practice, practice! Like with any new skill, consistent practice is key.
2. Use extra delicious treats for recall practice. If your dog isn't excited about treats, use one of their favorite toys as a reward instead.
3. Reward check-ins in the house & while out on walks (a check-in is any time your dog chooses to give you attention on their own).
4. Only say the cue once! If your dog doesn't respond the first time, make yourself as interesting as possible to get their attention - make kissy noises, clap your hands, etc.
5. Avoid using your recall cue if you're not 99% sure it will work (if they're chasing after a squirrel, for example, this may not be a good time to try).
6. If you make a mistake on #5, always “save” the recall by getting really close to your dog, encouraging them to follow you, and rewarding them when they do.
7. Don’t use your cue to call your dog for anything they don't like (nail trims, a bath, leaving the dog park, etc.).
8. Never punish your dog if they don't come to you when you call them - this will make them less likely to come the next time.
9. If your dog is consistently not coming when called, what you're asking for may be too difficult. Try going back to basics - practice in a low distraction environment (like in your living room) from a short distance.
10. Maintain your recall after you train it! Practice at least three times a week for life.