How to train a dog to come when called

Purebred Golden Retriever dog outdoors on a sunny summer day.
Purebred Golden Retriever dog outdoors on a sunny summer day.

One of the most common problems people have with their dog is:  “my dog doesn’t come when I call”. So this article is about: How to train a dog to come when called

Of all dog training exercies training the recall is one of the funniest of them all. This is  because we all do so much completely wrong! Let us take a look at it.

This is what we want our dog to: When we call our dog “come Buster” we want Buster to come running to us as fast as he possibly can.

The best way to acheive this is to make “come Buster” the best command he can possibly think of. This is easily done by giving Buster a great reward every time he is coming back to you.

So here are some useful tips on how to do it!

Never ever call your dog to tell her off! If you do this you can undo weeks and weeks of  work training your dog to come simply by telling her off just once. Because from your dog’s point of view coming suddenly becomes a bad move.  Coming to you should be a good experience.

An important thing to add here is that some people call their dogs many, many times and when the dog finally comes they tell her of for not coming right away. There is no way a dog could understand this logic. A dog stays on the last thing it did, so it will think you are angry because it came when you called.
Soo 9 times out of 10 you should make sure that your dog has a good experience when she comes if you call her. If you do need to put a leash on your dog on the 10th recall then do so. Once your dog has learned the command; come when called this will no longer be an issue.
When you call your dog to come to, sort of see it more like you are calling your dog to check in with you rather than  calling her to stop her from what she is doing.

 

woman with several dogs coming to herIf you are unsure then use a long line to control your dog. This is a long  piece of line or rope that can be as long as you think you need and it lies  on the ground but you should keep it within reach!
If your dog hates returning to the car then you reward your dog back at the car with some water and a small feed and things will soon change! Then suddenly returning to the car seems like a good option. I have friend who’s veterinarian did this when he and his dog were there for the first time. He gave the dog a little treat and from then on going to the veterinarian was positive experience and they never had any problems when they had to go there.
The basic formula to a good recall training is:

CALL your dog to come to you, then
REWARD your dog within 2 seconds and then you right away
RELEASE your dog.
So to make  your dog enjoy the experience of coming back to you should learn how to use the power of  affection and attention by withholding it and only giving it as a reward. This is one of the most powerful tools available when training our dogs and yet we get it all so wrong by giving the dog lots of attention whenever they want it and wondering why they don’t come when we call them!

As with most dog training the procedure is quite simple, if you how to do it. Like always when training a dog, you first need to establish yourself as the packleader. It is very hard to train a dog if it does not see you as its leader. However when your dog look up to you as its leader then it will be easy to make it obey and change will happen quickly.

You can find a video on how to make your dog come when called and also a course on how to become the packleader at the online dogtrainer. I have made a review on this program and find it absolutely excellent.

Click Here to read my online dogtrainer review.

Comments 6

  • This is a great article, and I must confess, so true of how I have done things in the past. What you have written makes perfect sense. Let me ask, do you find that there is any difference in how you would train this between different breeds of dogs? I ask because I own a golden retriever and a Rottweiler and they seem to respond differently to different training. Any thought?

    • You have asked a good question. Usually dog training does not vary that much between breeds. Some breeds of dogs are naturally stubborn and needs a little more patience to to train, some breeds are more intelligent than others and understand faster. When it comes to the difference between your Golden Retriever and a Rottweiler when training it to come it might be the fact that the Golden Retriever is bred to bring things back to their owner. The Golden Retrievers (as you propably know) are used during birding hunting. When the hunter shoots down a bird the Goldern Retriever will run and fetch and bring it back to the hunter. So it might simply be the fact that this dog is bred to fetch things that makes the difference. It is natural for it to come back to its owner The Rottweiler is guard dog and will respond in a different way to this training.

  • This sounds like a great way to teach your dog to come when called. I’ve tried to train my dogs before but gave up half way so he still doesn’t react to his name.

    My one questions is that if we use food as the reward, would the dog expect to be fed each time they come to you?

    And in return, would they not do it anymore if you don’t reward them for too long?

    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Anh

    • In the beginning you could use the food reward every time it comes. Continue to do this for a few weeks. Then you can gradually decrease the number of rewards you give her. Just don’t stop the rewards to soon. The main point here is to making coming back to you a good experience for your dog. Patting and stroking it is also a reward for your dog and this can replace the food awards. In the long run the dog will become soo used to your command that it will automatically come when you call her. Try this and if you have any problems just get back to me and I will try to help you.

      Jojo

  • This is very helpful article! We have a 1 year old lab who has no interest in coming when called unless I throw the ball for him, and even then if he’s tired he will just sit down. I could see him learning to come with treats, but if he’s around other dogs (like at the dog park) I have to chase him around to leash him when it’s time to go. Do you think just treating him will work?

    • Hi,

      I think giving treats is going to work but you do need to be patient. Getting a dog to come when called can sometimes be difficult, especially in the park where there are soo many other distractions around. I have one question though: Does your dog obey in other situations? If he does then it means that he sees you as his leader and the task of making him come back when called is going to be easier. If does not obey at all, you need to first establish yourself as the packleader before you can start this training.

      I wish you good luck and if I can be of help feel free to contact me at any time.

      Jojo

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