HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG TO LOVE COMING WHEN CALLED
One of the most common things that dog owners tell me is that their dogs don’t come when they call them. This is a scary thing to me. It’s just downright dangerous to allow a dog to be off-leash anywhere, if you do not have any confidence that your dog is going to return to you when you call it. So, I am going to give you some fun ways to teach your dog to come.
Start by calling your dog when it is already coming to you. When you first get your dog, take advantage of those times your dog comes to you, anyway. There are many of those times: when you are about to feed it, when you are getting ready to go on a walk, when your dog seeks you out after it’s been in another part of the house, at playtime, etc. The secret here is to get your dog to associate two things with the act of coming to you.
The first thing is to get your dog to associate your call with coming to you; which is accomplished by you calling your dog when you first realize that it is coming to you. This may sound silly, but it insures that your dog will most likely have 100% success at obeying the command.
The second thing is to have your dog get something that it really likes for coming to you. So, when your dog gets to you, reward it big. Give it a special treat or dinner, give it lots of attention, take it on a walk, play with it. If you always pair all the things that your dog loves with it hearing you call it, you are well on your way to teaching your dog to come when called.
As you probably know the above is not necessarily enough to convince your dog to come when it is outside having fun. You need to do more than just call your dog when it is going to come, anyway. So, here’s another tip: Play hide and seek with your dog. Put your dog on a stay (note: Only do this, if your dog really knows how to stay). Hide. Call your dog. Tell your dog how wonderful it is when it finds you. Repeat. I have rarely met a dog that didn’t enjoy a good game of hide and seek. It’s good exercise for your dog, too.
Continuing on the theme of teaching "come" through play, try this game: Duck away from your dog when it’s not paying attention. This is done when you are wandering around your house or yard, and your dog is accompanying you. Pay attention to when your dog gets ahead, or distracted by something. When that happens, quickly move off away from your dog, and, if possible, hide. When you become aware that your dog is searching for you, call it. When it gets to you, make a big fuss. You can even cause your dog to be distracted by throwing a treat or toy, then running off when it goes to get it.
My final idea for making learning to come when called fun is great for the dog that lives with more than one person. Grab a human partner, or two, and call your dog from one person to the other. The trick to this is for each person to call the dog while it is getting attention from someone else. It is critical that the person giving the attention immediately stops giving that attention as soon as s/he hears another person call the dog. This is more fun if the people involved are not within sight of each other, and is the most fun if the people can change their locations when the dog is not with them.
Make sure that you teach your dog to come reliably before you ever let it off-leash when you are not in your home or fenced yard. Using the above techniques with your dog will teach it that that coming to you means that it gets good things. You will be well on your way to knowing that your dog will come when called, which in dog training circles is known as a reliable recall.
Want more information on teaching your dog to come when called? You can find full instructions on teaching the recall in
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