Teaching your dog to come

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One of the biggest problems my clients come to me about is their dogs not coming when called. A solid recall can literally save your dogs life. Imagine the horror of watching your dog run out of your front door straight into traffic. One word can prevent the tragedy of your dog being hit by a car.

Most people only call their dogs to them when they want to crate them, when they are doing something naughty or they want to leave the dog park. Most people don’t call their dogs just because. So they are inadvertently teaching their dogs that the word “come” has a negative connotation. The great fun at the dog park is about to end or their owners are leaving them for work. What we should be practicing is that the word “come” means wonderful things are about to happen, not that the fun is over. The recall (come) command always has to be positive, happy and enthusiastic. We want the dog to want to come to us no matter what is going on around them.

Start by picking out a treat that has a high value to your dog. Only use that treat when practicing the recall. Start with the dogs name “Fido come” in a happy excited voice. When your dog comes to you, have your high value treat ready to reward once your dog gets to you. Try and make sure while you are rewarding your dog that you are able to put your hands on your dog and physically touch him. Often the dog will come close enough to take the treat and then run away again. It is important that you practice the recall while being able to put your hands on your dog. Once the treat is gone, release your dog with your release word “ok” to tell them they are free to run off again.

Practice calling the dog to you in different areas of your house and yard and reward them for coming to you. Once your dog is consistently coming, start practicing with distractions or in new places.

Problem solving

  • If your dog is not food-motivated, you can use a favorite toy in place of food.
  • If your dog is easily distracted and/or not food-motivated put a 20-foot leash on and “reel” the dog in while staying enthusiastic and excited
  • Try patting your legs or clapping to get the pup’s attention
  • Running away from your dog will generally spark your dogs interest
  • Getting down low either by squatting or lying down will generally make your dog want to come and investigate what you are doing.
  • Make sure you have physical control either with a long line or a fenced area at all times while your dog is learning the true meaning of a solid recall.

The key to a solid recall is be more exciting and interesting that what’s going on around the dog. That could mean a high-pitched happy voice, physical encouragement or a special treat your dog loves.

Jennifer Towers is owner of Lead the Pack Dog Training. You can also find Lead the Pack Dog Training on Facebook.

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