1. Start with baby steps. Before you take your training outside, practice with your dog in a quiet, low distraction area like in your house. Once your dog is successful (responding correctly 8 out of 10 times,) you can increase the distraction level.
2. Have the right kind of motivation for your dog. A high value treat like cheese or a small piece of hot dog works well. If your dog is toy obsessed, use a brand new toy. Remember you are competing with the environment (smells, dogs, squirrels, etc.) and you have to up the ante.
3. Be fun and engaging. Instead of just saying “come” and standing still, run away from your dog and make kissy noise or whistle. The more interesting you are, the more interested your dog will be in you. Running away from your dog, sparks your dog's natural instinct to chase so use it.
4. Only use the word “come” for positive things like toys, treats, and praise. If you call your dog to you and then do something unpleasant to your dog (like bath him or put him in his crate), you are punishing your dog for doing the right thing.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice. The more you practice, the better equipped your dog will be when come is necessary.
Check out this video of Mijo, the chocolate lab. He comes as soon as he hears his name, which is great so he can go on lots of outdoor adventures off leash.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant