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Training your dog to “come” when called

March 8, 2009

030809_img_1985One of the most important things every dog should know is “come” when they are called. This can mean life or death in many situations.  If you are on a busy street your dog could get hit by a car. They could run away, end up in the pound, get bit by a snake, or get seriously injured all by not listening when you call them. Therefore, this is the most important behavior to teach your dog!

With a behavior like “come” I use the balance training method. The balance method is using a positive reward when you dog does a behavior correctly and a correction method when your dog doesn’t do what you ask. Either one of these methods can be used as the sole approach to training the recall. I always choose the positive reward method over the correction first.  But when it comes to a behavior like “come” it is very important that your dog knows that you are absolutely serious when you call them, as their safety and well being could be in danger.

In order to start training your dog to “come” you need to have control over your dog first. You do this by putting them on a long line leash.  I recommend a leash that will give them a good amount of space away from you.  Around 15 feet or more should be plenty. Your dog needs to feel as though they are not under your control. I start my dogs on a long line leash allowing them to walk around freely in front of me. Sometimes I even give them a lot of slack. Then I call my dog to come to me, like “Abby, COME”!  Be sure you are consistent and say it the same way every time. Remember constancy is one of the four keys to dog training. As soon as your dog is called they should turn and start coming to you. If they do, say the power word “yes” and/or use your clicker. When they get to you, give them their reward (food or toy). Follow up with a lot of love and praise!  Don’t be afraid to get a little excited in your voice and behavior. Make it fun and rewarding for your dog and they will pick up on their recall faster.

030809_img_20021If your dog does not turn and come to you when you call them, DO NOT click the clicker or say “YES”. Instead, say “NO” and at the same time jerk the leash giving your dog a correction. Call them again and if they start to come towards you, say “YES” or click the clicker, then reward them when they get to you. If they stop coming towards you and turn another way, say “NO” and immediately give them a jerk on the leash. Then call them again. Keep repeating these steps over and over; correct your dog with a jerk of the leash and say “NO” when they don’t come towards you and positively reward them by saying “YES” or click the clicker when they do come towards you. Give them their favorite reward when they get to you along with a lot of love and praise. Follow these steps in short training sessions a few times every day. If you are consistant you will have a great recall on your dog in no time!

PAWSITIVE NOTE: If your dog runs away from you and won’t come back, NEVER discipline them when you finally catch them. Its a natural frustration to get angry with your dog and want to get mad. Instead, you need to reward your dog and praise them at that moment. If you don’t, next time they will try harder to run away and each time it will make the matter worse.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2009 2:15 pm

    Awesome post. Its nice to see writers who are passionate about the things they write about dogs. Its rare to see that nowadays

  2. November 14, 2010 10:31 am

    professional dog trainings are expensive specially if you hire those dog trainers that can teach your dogs lots of tricks `’*

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