Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called
There are a few common things people first teach their puppies when they get them: how to sit, how to walk on a leash, where to go potty, and to come when called. Usually puppies pick up coming when called rather quickly and are glad to come running when they hear the melodic sounds of their owner’s voice.
However after teaching their puppies to come when called people often accidentally start to teach their dogs the opposite, to stay away when they’re called. A lot of people fall into the trap of only calling their dog when they want something. For instance they’ll call their dog to come into the house after being outside, they’ll call their dog to come and get in their crate, and they’ll call their dog away chasing squirrels or the neighbor’s cat.
“The dog quickly learns that each time their owner calls them they have to stop doing something they find fun to go do something they don’t want to do.”
So instead of coming when called the dog now starts to ignore their owner which usually results in the owner trying to chase the dog down and catch them. At this point the dog is also learning that they are faster than their owner and can instigate a fun game of chase by not coming when they are called. In your dog’s eyes a nice game of chase is a whole lot more fun than going in their crate or coming in from outside so they will continue to try and avid their owner instead of coming.
The Formula for a Successful Recall
We have successfully trained hundreds of dogs to come when called through our simple formula.
- Start with your dog on a long leash
- Call your dog to you
- When your dog comes reward him with lots of praise and a small piece of kibble or a small treat. (It’s best to use something small that is quick and easy for the dog to chew and swallow. We prefer using the dog’s normal kibble as the reward and to have the dog work for his meals instead of giving the dog a lot of treats on top of his normal meals.)
- After rewarding your dog immediately release him to go play and sniff again
The steps for teaching your dog to come when called are very simple and straight forward, what makes this successful is a lot of repetition, variation, and patience.
Repetition – Most dogs have been trained that every time their owner calls them the fun stops and they have to do something they don’t like. So you need to call your dog often and with no obligations. Meaning call your dog over just to give him some pets and attention and then send him on his way. Or call him over and give him a treat and then send him on his way. The more you call the dog and give him attention and rewards the less suspicious he will be to come when called when you do need something from him, like to come in the house or go in his crate. Your dog will start to see coming when called as a fun game instead of a sign that play time is over.
Variation – Dogs don’t generalize very well. You’ll need to practice coming when called in various locations and at various times. Practice in your living room, in your backyard, in your front yard, at the park, at the pet store. Also practice at different times of the day. Dogs are smart and will catch on to things such as their owner calls then every morning to go into their crate before they leave. The more variation you can incorporate into training the better your dog will be at coming when called.
Patience – Things don’t happen overnight. Every dog learns at a different rate so move at a pace that works for you and your dog. Same thing with weaning your dog off of the treats, once your dog is coming when called every time for a treat start to gradually reduce the number of times you give a treat. If you stick to the process you’ll soon have your dog coming when called like a champ!