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How to Train Your Dog to Come to You on Command

Updated on November 3, 2010

Have a helper hold the dog and release when you call your dog

adry, copyright
adry, copyright

All new puppy owners should invest a good amount of time in teaching their pup to come when called, and long time dog owners should work on polishing their dog's recall skills. A good recall is essential and can even mean the difference between life and death, when your dog is about to cross that road full of cars. There are some good ways (and bad ways) to teach your dog to come upon being called. The most important secret is to make your dog's name sound like music to its ears.

You can also teach recall with a long line

The Company of Animals Clix Long Line Dog Lead
The Company of Animals Clix Long Line Dog Lead

The Company of Animals Clix Long Line Dog Lead is an essential aid for recall training, allowing the dog to be seemingly free yet under control. The Company of Animals Clix Long Line Dog Lead is also an ideal tool to for controlled socialization of puppies and young dogs. Dogs of any age are sure to respond to knowing they have freedom to be in your control!


How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

Owners should put their puppy or dog up for success by starting in an area with little or no distractions. The hallway of a home works great since it is straight. A helper will be needed to get this exercise done. The helper will hold the puppy and stay at one end of the hallway and the owner should lure the puppy with some tasty treat and run to the other end of hallway, bend down and call the puppy with arms wide open.

The helper will release the puppy as soon as the owner is at the other end and the puppy appears to be aroused. The owner will praise the puppy for coming and will feed the treat as a reward. 

The same can be done with an adult dog. Only different thing to do is the helper will keep the dog on leash and will un-clip the leash once the owner bends down and calls the dog.

Once, the puppy or dog knows this recall exercise well, it may be made more challenging. The owner instead of running away will walk away with the treat. Then, the owner will no longer show the treat as a lure, but will simply give it once the puppy comes. The owner will no longer bend down to call the puppy. The owner will no longer keep the arms open. The puppy will be asked a sit upon coming to the owner before getting the treat and so forth.

Once the puppy or dog demonstrates a solid recall at home, it can be done in a more distracting environment. A yard, quiet neighborhood block  with no cars or friend's house. Then, only once the dog seems to answer well, it can be tried in areas near dogs, people and kids playing.

Troubleshooting Recall Problems

When dogs do not respond well to their name, owners may be doing something wrong. The following are some common mistakes dog owners do when calling their dog.

• Owners should never ever, call their dog when angry. The dog will associate coming to them as something negative. You always want to call your dog's name in a happy, joyful voice. This may be tough for men, but it is worth it.

• Owners should never block the puppy with theirs arms to try to catch him or her. Doing so, will cause the puppy to move away right when he should be coming to you. Lure him to you with the treat if you see he is coming towards you but may be off to something more interesting.

• Calling your dog while he is sniffing is like putting him up to fail. Dogs use one sense at a time, so if he is busy sniffing something he may not hear you. Call your dog when you know there are high chances of him coming to you.

• If there are distractions, try to be the most interesting thing on earth. Make funny noises, act silly, anything to make you look phenomenal in your puppy's eyes. Animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell in her book ''On the other end of the leash'' suggests calling your pup's name and running away from your puppy clapping your hands to get his attention if necessary. Finding this to be a fun game of catch, your dog will likely come running towards you''.

• Never chase your dog, he will think it is a fun game and you will never catch him. Rather, let him chase you if you want him to come to you fast.

• If you call your dog just to put the leash on him after playing with other dogs and having a blast, very likely your dog will not like to be called anymore. Rather, call your dog, put some treats on the ground while you put the leash on and play a game together before leaving the park.

  • If you call your dog by its name too much, he may develop ''deaf ears'' and get too used to hearing it all the time like a broken record. Try to use your dog's name or recall command sparingly, making it a rewarding but much sought after event.


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