Basics – Teach a dog to come

Teaching a dog to come, or teaching a good recall, is a tool that EVERY dog and owner should have in their tool box.

Why?

  • It could save the dogs life
  • It saves you steps of having to go get the dog all the time
  • It makes teaching games like fetch a whole lot easier

Variety of ways to train this behaviour. I’ll start with the easiest first.

  1. Get puppy home. Get his attention, then crouch down in an inviting way, say Puppy, come. then reward puppy for doing so, while touching his collar. 🙂 Do this anywhere and everywhere.
  2. Catch your dog coming toward you. Fido, come! Reward.
  3. Arrange things so that when you say “Come,” there’s a high likelihood that your dog will come to you. For example, say “Come” when your dog is looking at you and appears to be ready to return to you anyway. Or have really desirable treats to increase his motivation when you say Come. If your dog is motivated by play,hold his favorite play toy when you say come, and use a firm, positive, upbeat voice.

Let’s say your dog chooses to ignore this more oft than not. Do not let him get into that habit. Really…you just don’t want to go there.

  1. Attach a long, light line to your dog.
  2. Get your dog’s attention. i.e. If dog is actively digging a hole or chasing a squirrel now is NOT the time to ask your dog to come. Go to your dog, as close as you need to that you are noticed.
  3. Call your dog’s name, say come. Do so in an inviting way, i.e. crouch down on the ground slapping your knees, tapping the ground or what have you. 🙂
  4. IF your dog comes, then reward in a manner that works for your dog. IF he doesn’t come, give a slight pull on the lead to encourage forward motion. DO NOT get angry, just remain upbeat. Good boy Fido, Good boy. Fido Come!
  5. Reward, reward, reward.

Some additional tools in teaching a come

  1. If there is more than one person in your household, sit on the ground put the puppy between you, have one person call the puppy to you. Reward every time the puppy comes. Give a good petting. Then have the other person call the puppy, reward, and then continue back and forth.
  2. Go for a walk in some place where you can walk your puppy off leash safely. ‘get lost’ (i.e. hide so that you are not immediately visible) and call the puppy. This teaches two things. First that your puppy must keep an eye on where you are and second to come when you call.
  3. What often works for dogs that don’t want to come when they are called is for their owner to get that dogs attention and then race madly the other way. Dogs like to chase. 🙂 When the dog is close to you, say Fido come in an inviting way, and then reward.

ALWAYS before rewarding touch the dog or grab hold of his collar so that he knows that coming means physical touch as well. Helps to prevent that dance of…I came, but I’m staying just out of reach of you, which gets owners frustrated with their dogs, which makes training a solid recall more difficult. 🙂

As with all training, proof it. As in, do in anywhere and everywhere, all the time. Noise, busy streets, quiet bushes, bustling people, just walking randomly etc. Fido come! Fido, what a good dog! Reward! 🙂

A PDF on using a clicker training method of teaching Come.

Other resources you may find helpful:

Some things to avoid doing

  • getting angry with your dog for actually coming to you (even if it’s after you called and called, even if it’s after the dog has torn up your flower bed etc).
  • calling your dog when you know he’s not going to hear you (aka squirrel chasing)
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6 thoughts on “Basics – Teach a dog to come

  1. Pingback: Basics - Teach a dog to come

  2. Thanks to you for providing this type of information. This is a great help to those who are seeking information related to the topic.

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