Reliable Recall: Some Rules to Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

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Coming when called is perhaps the most important thing your dog can learn.  It can mean the difference between being lost forever, getting into a road and hit, or just generally making you pull your hair out with worry.

There are a few rules you need to keep in mind when you teach your dog to come when called.

  1. He needs a reason. He may not need one later, but he needs one now.  So don’t expect him to come and then not reward him with something positive.
  2. Treat it as if it were as important as it actually is!  When your dog comes to you, throw a party!  Don’t just say “Good boy” in a dull voice.  Be enthusiastic, and give him some noms.
  3. Don’t ever punish him for coming to you, no matter how long it takes!  If you greet him with anger or frustration he will be reluctant to come to you the next time you call.  And don’t do something he doesn’t like.  Don’t call him and put him in the bathtub.  Don’t call him away from play (not now, anyway).  If he needs a bath, then call him, play with him for five minutes, and then it’s bath time.
  4. Practice every day.  Don’t just hope it will be there when you need it.  Practice it at whatever difficulty he is successful at, and then build up.

This is an important command.  Take time to train your dog, and have fun with it!

About Dawn Gardner, CPDT-KA

I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), an administrator of the Modern Dog Group, and a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). I am also a freelance writer for dog related publications. I have been training dogs since 1997, promoting force-free, science based training methods, instructing group classes and providing private in-home dog training. I have worked extensively with dogs with behavioral issues, including those suffering from anxiety, aggression and other stress related disorders. I have dedicates much of my free time to rehabilitating and re-homing shelter dogs with a variety of rescue organizations. As part of my passion for advocating science based dog training methods, I have had the privilege to lecture at Virginia Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2014 I returned to Arkansas after 12 years in rural North Carolina, where Happy Hound Pet Services began in 2007. I live in Rudy, Arkansas, with my nine dogs and occasional foster dogs.
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