Feb 23

Teaching Recall – Does Your Dog Come When Called?

Does your dog get excited when you say “Let’s go for a walk” or “Let’s go for a ride” but doesn’t come running when you call him?  You are not alone! Many of my students experience the same thing.  Reward is the key.  When you ask your dog if he wants to go for a walk or ride, he is rewarded with a walk or ride. On the other hand, when you call your dog to come to you, his fun usually stops.  By stopping, I mean he has to come inside before he is ready or you put his leash on him to leave the dog park. There is no reward.

Teaching your dog to come when called is not only an important command, but it is fairly easy to teach. When teaching recall, this is the one time you don’t want to skimp on the healthy pet treats!  I always use something my dogs absolutely love when teaching recall as well as a lower value dog treat.

To teaching recall, start inside where there are few distractions. Choose a word that you will only use when calling your dog.  If you have been using the word “come” and your dog is not responding, choose something different such as “here”.  Start with your dog on his dog leash, back up few feet while tempting him with his favorite healthy pet treat and say his name followed by your recall word. When he reaches you, give him the dog treat and lots of praise.  Repeat this until he will come to without tempting him, but continue to treat and praise him when he reaches you.

Once he is consistently coming to you without luring, slowly increase the distance and distractions.  It’s best to move the training to your back yard at this point, keeping your dog on his leash.  When increasing distance, it is helpful to have a partner.  Have someone hold your dog while you move approximately 10′ away, call your dog’s name followed by your recall word.   When he reaches you, treat and praise.

Now that you have accomplished your dog coming to you in your house and yard every time you call him, you will want to start practicing in other areas. Make sure the areas are safe and that your dog cannot run off if he doesn’t respond.  I find that using a longer training leash is helpful at this stage.  I start with a 30′ leash because I can work at shorter distances and don’t have to buy a new one every time I want to increase the distance. Again, it’s helpful to have an assistant that can hold the end of the leash while you call your dog.

Here are some things to keep in mind while teaching your dog to come that will make it easier and help him learn much faster.

1. Do not use your recall word unless you know your dog is going to come all the way to you.

2. Never call your dog to you to punish him.

3. While at the dog park or in the back yard, entice your dog to come to you, grab his collar, give him a healthy pet treat and let him go play. This teaches him that fun doesn’t always stop when you call him.

4. If you call your dog to you, and he takes his time, you can treat and praise him but use the lower value dog treat.  If he comes immediately, he gets the best treat and you praise him like he just won the Boston Marathon!

5.  Practice, practice, practice.  The more you work with him, the better and quicker he will learn come when called.

Remember, it is best to contact your local dog trainer to help you put a complete training plan together to insure that your dog becomes a well-rounded canine citizen.  Training helps you and your dog build a lifelong bond.

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