To get your dog to come when you call, understand your dog’s personality and build a training strategy that will work for both of you.
Some dogs are easier to train to come when you call. Others are stubborn and take more work.
Dogs learn by association. Positive associations, and positive reinforcements, make for positive behaviors.
Use these seven tips to get your dog to come when you call.
Strategies to get your dog to come
1. Negative associations create negative behaviors. Never call your dog to punish them or punish them when they “finally” come to you. If you do, the dog either won’t respond, or it will react in fear.
2. Make all recall positive experiences. The faster your dog responds, the greater your reaction should be. Let them know it by showing you are happy they are with you.
3. Always praise your dog when she gets to you. Do it even if it takes your dog a while to return because they have to sneak in a quick drink or sniff a sneaker while on their way. The faster they respond, the bigger the reward you should give.
4. Focus on training first. Dog parks pose recall problems for many dogs. They are having so much fun when it’s time to leave; that they go deaf. You need to practice, practice, practice. When you get to the park, start by calling your dog to you a few times. Praise them, then release them. Then let them play. By focusing on training first, you help reinforce good behavior. And you train the dog to know that the only time you call is when it’s time to leave.
Training, training, training
5. Enroll in positive reinforcement, punishment-free obedience class. Dogs learn from other dogs, and dog trainers have tips to help solve individual cases.
6. Get your dog’s attention quickly. Use a whistle, or a squeaker from an old toy, clap your hands, or call their name, then turn around and walk away. Make an exciting sound that your dog associates with something positive, and use it only for recall. Bend down; act as if you’re looking at something interesting on the ground. Many dogs can’t resist coming to check it out. Sometimes just hearing you say, “Bye!” gets their attention!
7. Never grab or chase your dog. Don’t turn this into a game you can’t win.
Understand your dog’s breed
Biddable dogs, such as Australian Shepherds, Golden and Labrador retrievers, German Shepherds, and Border Collies, usually establish exceptional bonds with their people. Even though they are working and sporting dogs, their relationship with humans is co-dependent, and the level of trust and respect is extraordinary.
On the other hand, most terriers and scent and sight hounds are typically less biddable and, therefore, harder to train to respond without delay to recall. It’s almost as if once their nose hits the ground, their hearing switches off! They are on a mission. As far as they are concerned, whatever you want can wait.
The most common mistake dog owners make, which later results in their dogs not responding directly, is to call their dogs to punish them. Or to punish the dog when they “finally” come. Never, ever, do that!
To successfully get your dog to come, your dog must associate that being with you is better than anything else out there! You must establish a safe and sturdy bond to achieve this connection.
Your dog should always want to be with you, no matter what distractions are going on around them. Without that, most dogs will ignore you or respond only out of fear.
For example, if your dog does not like to be bathed, don’t call your dog to come to the bathroom.
Instead, go and get them. That takes away the option of ignoring you. It’s a win-win situation. You get them into the tub, and they don’t associate something negative with getting your dog to come when you call.
Keep things positive. That doesn’t mean your dog must always be attached to your leg. It means they have earned the freedom to move away from you. But when you call, they instantly respond because they associate it with making you happy.
You build a relationship and bond with your dog with positive interactions such as walks, playtime, car rides, grooming, positive reinforcement, and punishment-free obedience training.
The bottom line: Get your dog to come
Keep your relationship with your puppy or dog one of mutual trust and respect.
To consistently make your dog come when you call, make sure your dog wants to be with you.
Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.