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Have you ever wondered how to teach your dog to come to you when you call? If you’ve ever been to the dog park and been frustrated when your best buddy wouldn’t obey your call when it was time to leave, you’ve probably thought about it. Sure, your dog might come running when you open that bag of treats – but coming when you call? Not so much.

One of the main reasons why this is happening is simple. Your dog hasn’t been trained to come to you on command. The good news is, you can train your dog to do just that. It doesn’t matter whether your dog is a puppy or an adult. Here are some tips that will have your dog coming to you whenever you want.

How To Teach Your Dog To Come When You Call Them: Train Your Dog

Dog on long leashLike any form of obedience training, learning how to teach your dog to come when you call, also known as reliable recall, takes some effort. But if you put in the time, you will very likely find that effort will be worth it in the long run. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to do it.

  • Step 1 – Get a long leash (about six feet). Put a favorite toy in the yard or something else that will grab your dog’s attention. Carefully start running backward, yelling “come” in an upbeat tone of voice. As the dog approaches, keep a tasty treat handy. Tell your dog to sit while holding the treat. When they sit, give your pet the treat as a reward.
  • Step 2 – Once you’ve done this successfully a few times, switch to a longer leash or lead – about 15 to 30 feet. Try some distractions to see how the dog reacts. Have someone else try to get the dog’s attention with a toy or food. If the dog still comes when you call, you will have successfully completed this phase of recall training.
  • Step 3 – If your dog is complying with your command every time, take them off the leash. Make sure you’re still in a confined area, though, so your pet can’t run away.1

Make Reliable Recall Fun For You And Your Dog

There are other ways to train your dog to come on command. For example, you can make a game out of recall training. One game involves walking the dog on a leash and then getting their attention. Run away from the dog – just a few steps – while saying, “come.” Be careful not to pull on the leash too hard. When your dog obeys, give them a reward. It could be a treat or simply a hug.

Dog covering his eyesTry playing a little indoor hide-and-seek around your home. Go to
another room and say, “come!” Have a reward and a lot of hugs ready when your pet finds you.

The next game will take one or two other people. Give each of them a treat to give your dog. Take turns calling the dog. Whenever your pet obeys the command, have the person reward the dog with the treat.2

Obedience Training And Your Dog’s Behavior: Positive Reinforcement And Rewards Work

Whether you choose to whistle to get your dog to come to you, or you use a word like “come” or “here,” recall training is extremely important. It might even save your dog from a serious injury, keeping them from running into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Dog TreatsOne of the best ways to ensure recall training success is to be positive at all times. In fact, positive reinforcement is a staple of any sort of training. Never punish or scold your dog when you practice recall training.

Use treats as rewards, and give plenty of love and affection. Try treats the dog doesn’t normally receive at home to motivate them even more. But non-food treats can also be effective. Just about every dog loves going for a walk. Before you grab that leash, whistle or use your recall word. The walk will be the reward.

Now, you need to be careful when using the recall word. You want your dog to associate it with something positive. If you use the word and immediately give your pup medicine or clip their nails, the dog might not react to your command.3

Try A Nonverbal Cue: Your Dog Can Learn To Read Your Body Language

Your dog’s behavior often depends on a particular cue. It could be something as simple as the rustling of a treat bag. During recall training, you want your dog to react in the right way to whatever cue you provide.

If your dog loves a certain treat and responds to the bag rustling, use your recall word before you pick up the bag. That will help further reinforce the dog’s positive association with the recall word.4

Having Trouble Trying To Train Your Dog?

In some cases, a pet owner won’t be able to change their dog’s behavior no matter what they try. They simply give up, assuming that having a well-behaved dog is nothing but a dream. If this sounds like you, talk to your vet. There might be something else going on.

Once your vet can rule out any medical problems that may be affecting your pup’s ability to be trained, they can help you come up with a plan. They may also recommend a professional dog trainer.

The majority of dogs will eventually come when called. All it takes is practice, patience, and a lot of love.

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