17 Tips to Train your Dog to Come When Called

Experiencing your dog completely ignore you when you call them to you can be extremely irritating. It can also be dangerous depending on the situation. Training your dog to come to you reliably will make your outings with your dog more stress free and your dog will be able to experience more freedom off leash.

Make no mistake, training your dog to come to you consistently takes practice and some dogs are more difficult to train than others. However, if you put in place the correct training techniques, you will begin seeing dramatic improvement in a short period of time.

Follow these tips to begin improving your recall.

  1. Practice Makes Almost Perfect- You have to practice your recall just like you would any other behavior that you want to be consistent. If you practice 5 recalls a day in the correct way, you will see dramatic results in just a few weeks.
  2. Use a Specific Command- Your dog needs to be trained to hear a specific command that means they need to return to you.  Just calling your dog’s name is not sufficient because you say your dog’s name throughout the day for all kinds of reasons. Your command should be a very specific “Bella Come” or “Tucker Here”
  3. Don’t Overuse the Command- The recall command should mean something special to the dog. If you are saying the command every time you simply want the dog’s attention, the command becomes irrelevant to the dog.
  4. Pay Attention to Voice Tone and Use Praise- Your recall command should have a bright tone to it whereas a stay command may have a low tone attached to it. Say it clearly and look inviting by praising your dog as soon as they begin moving toward you.
  5. Don’t Consistently Call Your Dog Away From Enjoyable Events- In the early stages of training; you need to pick your moments correctly when you call your dog. If you are constantly calling them to you while they are playing with other dogs or smelling something interesting, you are teaching the dog that coming when called takes away all of the fun.
  6. Show Your Dog that Coming When Called is Part of Play- once your dog starts to improve  at coming when called, you should call your dog periodically while they are playing with their toys or with other dogs, give a reward, and then let them go back to doing whatever they were doing before you called them.
  7. Don’t Call Your Dog to Unpleasant Situations- This will ruin your recall faster than any other action on your part. For example, if you are leaving for work in the morning and have to crate your dog; don’t call them to you and then put them in the crate. The dog will associate coming to you with an unpleasant event.
  8. Create Separation Between your Recall Command and Unpleasant Situations- You should handle the previous example by calling the dog to you, praise them and then wait 2-3 minutes before you send them to the crate. This separation between the recall and the unwanted event avoids creating a negative association to the recall.
  9. Reward Your Dog When They Get it Right- Practice calling your dog to you often and give them a small food reward, lots of praise, or their favorite toy. You should also change up the type of reward often to ensure coming to you stays exciting for the dog.
  10. Move Away From Your Dog When You Call Them- this action can motivate them to come to you by stimulating the dog’s chase drive (desire to what to chase something) or pack drive (desire to stay with their owner).
  11. Don’t Chase Your Dog for Fun- I know your dog may really enjoy this game, but the problem arises when the game is not brought under control and the dog decides to play this game when you do not want to play.
  12. Let Your Dog Chase You- You can play chase with your dog, just don’t chase them. Letting them chase you can teach them how fun it is to run toward you. Play hide and seek games and reward with toys, food, or petting when they find you.
  13. Train in Environments Where You Want Your Recall to Work- If you only practice in your home, then your dog will probably only come to you in your home. The more experience your dog has in other environments, the better they will listen to your commands in those environments.
  14. Don’t Allow Your Dog to Ignore the Command- If you call your dog to you and they ignore you or move away from you, then you will need to go and get them. Do not just keep calling them over and over allowing them to ignore your recall command. Show them that you will follow up when you ask them to come to you.
  15. Don’t Allow Your Dog to Play Deep Away- If your dog starts to play keep away, you should follow them until they eventually stop.  Trainers call this process a “Walk Down”.  Do not try and lunge for the dog’s collar or dive for them when you get close to them.  Instead, you should walk calmly until your dog stops. Trust me; they will stop at some point. The first time may take a while, but the time span will get shorter and shorter once your dog sees that you are persistent. 
  16. Don’t Reprimand Your Dog When You Catch Them-If your dog escapes out the front door and bolts through the neighborhood, your emotions are going to be running high especially if your dog is running through traffic. It is vital that when you finally catch your dog that you do not unload all of that frustration on them.  When you catch them, take a deep breath, and go on a short walk and then back to the house. If you don’t have a leash with you, you can use a belt or a shoe lace.
  17. Practice With a Long Line- Long lines allow you to prepare for off leash recalls while at the same time providing safety in locations that are not fenced. Long lines can be purchased at your local pet store or amazon.com. For the majority of situations, I use a 30ft cotton lead that is 5/8inch thick.

If you would like to see how the complete training process works, you can visit our member’s area. The member’s area will teach you how to train your dog to come to you consistently by breaking the training process into a step by step process that is easy to follow.

Show me how to train my dog to come when I call them.

Published on July 23, 2017

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