UKC Dog Sports Judge
Hey Kristen! Cheryl is out of town, so I am taking the liberty of answering. I would NOT correct him for not coming when called... as that is probably what started the problem in the first place (even though you may think you didn't "correct" him), something in his brain associated an unpleasant occurrence when he came to you (crating, being out up, end of play time, you leaving for work, etc) so he has chosen not to come. I would back way, way up and start over as if he was a puppy. Your dog must always, ALWAYS, A-L-W-A-Y-S come when called, so you must now repeat that command and response forty-eleven times a day (indoors and out) and give him the most wonderful TREAT every single frigging time he comes. Have steak, liver or something equally wonderful and give him a mouthful of it. Free him to run and play once more, and when he is not looking at you, call him again and run the other way. When he catches up to you, fill his mouth again with a wonderful treat to eat OR a tug to pull and bite. Make his coming to you THE most wonderful experience in the world… have a PAR-TAY and thump him up, feed his palate or let him have some bite work. Free him again, then lay down prone on the ground and call him with your highest, squeakiest voice! Wait until he is on top of you snuffling with his nose before you reach up with your fingers only to grasp his collar… then thump him and feed him and play tug with him. Play hide and seek with him in the house and try to “ditch him”… again over enthusiastically rewarding him when he finds you. Be the biggest, goofiest most animated owner you can imagine and make him understand that he is the King of the World for coming to you. Go way, way over the top to help him understand (through repetition) that coming when called is the best thing ever! Remember it takes between 50 & 75 repetitions for a command to transfer from short term memory to long term memory, so you will need to treat this as a new exercise (consider changing your command to “here” instead of “come”) and train it repeatedly for 50-75 days in a row!!! Do NOT make him sit when he returns to you, nor front and finish…. Just hold him and hug him and feed him or pet him or play tug with him. You are both untraining the ignore response and then retraining a happy quick recall… so I do recommend changing your recall command away from the one he does not respond to and instituting a new fresh one without negative associations. Please keep us posted.