How To Get Your Dog To Come When Called EVERY Time
*Fluffy looks at you but decides that running off in the opposite direction sounds like more fun*
Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
Then you are in the same boat as many, many other dog owners.
One of the hardest aspects of training for owners seems to be teaching their dog recall.
From their home, to the dog park and everywhere in between—owners have a difficult time getting their dog to consistently come to them!
In a perfect scenario, the owner commands the dog: “come!”, and the dog drops whatever he is doing at any given moment to come to his owner.
What if I told you that you can have this perfect scenario ALL the time?
Yes, your dog does have the ability to come to you when called, I promise you! It just takes a few simple steps.
The first step of recall training is to associate “come” with nothing but positivity.
What does your dog associate the word “come” with?
Does “come” mean that it is time to leave the dog park?
Or does it mean that it is bath time?
Or does it mean that it is time to go in his crate for the night?
If your dog associates “come” with these types of actions, why would he want to come to you?
This is the key to successful recall training: Making your dog want and choose to come to you!
How do you do this?
By making the command mean nothing but positivity and rewards.
The second your dog comes to you after you call him, you need to REWARD him.
Remember that rewards can be attention, affection, toys, treats, etc...
but for this command, specifically, you want to use a highly motivating reward—sometimes I even recommend using “special” treats that you only use during recall training.
The reason that you have to use highly motivating treats at first is because to get your dog to want to do something, you need to motivate him.
When your dog is off leash exploring outside, his freedom and free roam is very motivating in itself.
Therefore, to be able to get your dog’s attention and to make him want to come to you, you may need to motivate him using an object of his desire when first beginning recall training.
However, if the only time you ever tell your dog to “come” is when you are going to end the play time by putting on his leash and restricting his freedom, the word “come” is going to be the opposite of motivating for your dog!
With that being said, telling your dog to “come” throughout your stay at the dog park and rewarding him for coming will teach your dog to associate coming to you when called with a reward; as opposed to the negative consequence of leaving such a fun place!
Another common objection I get is “Well, if I only motivate my dog with treats, then they’re not going to listen to me, they only want the treats, and won’t listen to me when I don’t have food to give them”.
This is why transitioning out of treats becomes key, and showing your dog that listening to you and pleasing YOU as their pack leader is the biggest reward there is.
After gaining your dog’s motivation and attention with praise and treats, slowly begin to wean off the treats in your training until you get to the point where your fur friend will come when called on a whim—not because you’re holding a treat in your hand… but because they respect you!
Another very important part of recall training that is often overlooked is starting small and working your way up.
When a client tells me that their dog will not come when at the dog park, I ask how is their recall at home?
Some respond that the dog always comes, and some say that he comes when he wants.
This is a crucial situation to analyze in your own experience.
If your dog does not come every single time you command him to “come” at home, how can you expect your dog to come to you while at the dog park?! You can’t!
Home is where the dog is most familiar with his surroundings, and there are the fewest distractions.
The dog park is on the other end of the spectrum, where there are a million and one distractions, and your dog probably has a harder time keeping self control.
If your dog does not have a good basis of recall at home, he will not consistently respond to your recall anywhere else.
You have to start by practicing recall where there are the fewest distractions and slowly increase the distractions to make it more challenging.
For more tips on recall, and an explanation of why it’s so important, check out “The Golden Rule Of Recall Training”.
If after reading both of these blogs, you’re still having trouble with improving your dog’s recall, feel free to sign up for a free phone consultation with me!