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One of the most important commands to teach your dog is to come when he is called. Teaching this command can be a challenge since dogs can become easily distracted. Think about it. Every time you call your dog, you’re actually interrupting what they are doing and asking them to come to you instead.
When teaching the “come” command, keep in mind that you are making your dog turn away from food, other dogs, and many interesting smells. The best way to teach the “come” command is to make him think that coming when you call is the most fun thing that they can do and that it will give him the most rewards.
When you train your dog the “come” command, you may run into the term “reliable recall,” and may not be exactly sure what it means. Basically, reliable recall refers to when you are calling your dog to come to you, but that he will respond enthusiastically almost 100 percent. A dog isn’t a robot, so you know there is never going to be a guarantee that he will listen to your call. However, teaching your dog reliable recall will make him consistent.
Using reliable recall is particularly important when you want to let your pup run off-leash at a dog park or fenced-in yard. It can also be an important skill for your dog in case of an emergency.
Off-Leash Play Alternatives
If you aren’t super confident of your pup’s recall ability, it’s safer to keep him on a dog leash. There are dogs that will never master recall so that it is reliable or safe in every situation. That doesn’t mean he can’t still have fun. Introducing off-leash play while training your dog can be done by allowing him to play in an area that is fenced in or has one of the best GPS dog fences. These types of alternatives will allow your dog to have the opportunity to do some exploring while still keeping him safe off-leash.
Local Leash Laws
It’s always important to know what the local leash laws are regardless of how well your dog responds to you when you call him. Remember that these leash laws include your yard and part of your property that is not fenced in. Leash laws are typically in effect in all local and state parks as well as national parks. Always respect leash laws so that you and your dog are respectful members of your community.
When training recall to your dog, you want to make a game out of it. It’s important that your dog thinks that coming to you is the most fun thing ever and that it is full of rewards and wonderful treats.
Begin pet training in an area with little to no distractions for your pup. Inside your house is usually the best place. Take a treat or a dog toy and show it to your dog. Praise him when he comes to you and then give him a reward. This should be repeated several times, and whenever your pup looks at you and moves towards you, use the verbal cue you have chosen. Only add the cue if you are confident that your dog is actually moving in your direction.
Next, ask your dog to come to you before you show him the treat. Make sure that the reward is a higher value treat like liver, cheese, or chicken. And add some distance between you and your pup in your low-distraction environment.
Recall Training Tips
Do not repeat yourself over and over. If you need to repeat your cue for your dog to come, then the environment you are training in is either too distracting, or your dog isn’t understanding the cue well enough for the training level you are attempting.
Reward your dog’s eye contact. Any time you notice that your dog has decided to be close to you or is looking at you, you need to give him both a treat and praise. Remember that while you may be giving a lot of treats at first, you will be reinforcing an important teaching moment to your dog because paying attention and being near your will make good things happen.
It’s also important to not punish your pup when he comes to you . Even when you are frustrated because your dog has taken his time before he obeyed your command, you still need to praise him that he did it.
Rewards! When you are training your dog to come when called, use a high-value treat or toy to reward your pup. This is particularly important when your dog is just learning. Make sure to always reward your dog when he answers your command so he can associate coming to you with getting something awesome.
Practice calling him to you daily. Only then can you slowly increase the level of difficulty and distraction. If you move too quickly, it can confuse your pup, which can lead to his recall as being less reliable.
If you need him to come to you during an emergency, remember to not chase your dog, even if it’s a time when you have left a gate open. This can quickly become a game that you don’t want to perpetuate by having him move away from you. Try running from your dog instead to get your dog to chase after you.
Tips for Getting Your Dog To Come on Command
When training your dog to follow commands, reinforcements are essential. At the start, a high-value treat which your dog doesn’t get frequently can be a very motivating factor. Remember that using a baggie of hot dogs or cooked chicken can be incredibly motivating for a dog.
While a food reward can be a great motivator, there are other types of rewards that you can use as well. Walking your dog can be a nice reward for many dogs. When your dog obeys your “come” command, you can get out the leash as a reward.
Even if he won’t immediately obey, he will soon learn that the “come” command is associated with a fun reward when he hears the audible clue after he has heard the command, which can be either his ball or leash. You will also want to use affection and verbal praise in order to reward your pup for listening. This works well if have a dog that is already doing well with the command.
First, practice the command inside
There are levels of dog obedience training just like there are grade levels in school, so you can’t expect that your dog will start off in high school when he really needs to be in elementary school. If you want your dog to respond well at the dog park, he needs to be able to respond first inside his home. Make sure you build up to another level slowly so that you will be able to get him to come to you reliably. You can work your way to total reliability in your house before moving outside where he will encounter more temptations and distractions.
Don’t punish your pup unintentionally
If your dog doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing, you can use the “come’ command to accidentally create negative associations with the come command. In this case, they will learn to stop responding to the command because they don’t want to stop what they are doing.
Examples of “punishments” for obeying the “come” command can include:
- Getting medicine
- Getting their nails clipped
- Bath time
- Grooming and brushing
You want to make sure that the “come” command isn’t used to call your pup when you are going to do something he does not like. When you encounter these types of situations, go to your pup, put him on a leash, and guide him gently to the bath, the car, or the medicine cabinet.
Use “come” and “here” instead of your dog’s name
A dog owner often will call a dog’s name when they just want to know where the pup is, but this isn’t a good way to train your dog. While this can be a hard habit to break, you will want to replace your pup’s name with the command “come” to make sure that your dog will always come to you when calling and that he is rewarded when he does.
Have your dog come to you all the way
A dog owner will often use the “come” command when he just wants to get his dog’s attention, which can be very confusing to a dog when the command is used inconsistently. For the command to be effective, you should use the “come” command when you mean “to come all the way to me”. Always avoid rewarding a dog for only coming a little way to you since it will give him the wrong idea of what you intend and what the command actually means.
How do I train my dog to come when asked?
Start inside at a short distance, somewhere between 10 and 15 feet. When your dog happens to be lying on the floor across from you, make eye contact with him and say clearly and happily the command “come”. Follow saying his name with the command “come”. Pat your legs and clap your hand to encourage him while continuing to say “come” until he makes his way over to you. Then you can give him a delicious treat.
Then, you can repeat the entire process at a longer distance. You should also try the process in another room, but if that doesn’t work, then you can go back to the same room to practice a few more times before trying it in a different room again. Remember the key to the whole process is repetition.
Make sure you consider everything that could distract your pup. At a lower level, try to introduce some distractions like their favorite toy when you are practicing and use the command. Always reward your dog when he does make it the entire way to you.
After you are certain that your dog has learned the command “come” inside your house, then you can venture outside. Begin in your own backyard and move the practice session to a park while continuing to practice at longer distances using an increasing number of distractions.
What do you do when your dog doesn’t come when called?
There are several reasons why a dog won’t come when he is called. Just like a small child, dogs are distracted easily and different breeds have varying degrees of distraction. If your dog isn’t responding when you call him, then he might not have generalized this command to every environment.
Your dog may also not want to get in trouble. If he has gotten into trouble in the past when you called, he may have bad memories associated with the command. Plus, if you are using an angry or frustrated tone, then he may be more hesitant to respond.
Or, your dog may think that his fun in the backyard or dog park is about to end. But, if you always use that command when you are ready to go home, then your dog will associate that command with having to go home or inside. Next time, when you are ready to head home, give him a reward, that way he won’t hesitate or ignore you when you want to go home.
How do you train a stubborn dog to come?
If you have a stubborn dog, it can be important that you consider what your dog is thinking and then play up the positives. You also want to make sure you are being consistent, take your time, and use a lot of fun treats.
You can then employ the Backup and Recall Method, which plays upon the instinct your dog has to stay by his mother’s side. When you take advantage of this instinct, you want to back away from the dog and then give him the right type of encouragement to come towards you and label the action with the command “come”.
Next, make sure your dog is well exercised, so he won’t get distracted easily. You will then want to leash and go for a walk and at some point, you will want to stop a ways away from him and excitedly command him to “come” and then reward him when he does. Keep moving away and repeating this action until he freely moves toward you.
At this point, you can try the process off-leash and try it in different places. This way he will learn the command well and in different environments.
Why does my dog not come when called?
Dogs will ignore your command to come when called for many reasons. He may be distracted and isn’t paying attention. He may not have generalized this command to every environment. Your dog may also not want to get into trouble. If you use this command any time you yell at him, he will definitely think it’s a bad thing when he hears it. And, he may associate it with having to go inside if you’re playing in the backyard. So, to him, the “come” command means his fun is about to end.