Teaching your dog to come to you when called is integral to proper dog training. Usually referred to as a “recall,” this command is one of the essential basic dog commands. You can teach a dog to come when called as soon as he learns its name.
Training your dog for the “recall” command can help you keep it under control while allowing it some off-leash freedom. In addition, once your dog masters this command, you can protect him from potentially unsafe situations or when he escapes your yard, or if you ever want to enjoy an off-leash hike in a wooded area. Start “recall” training early, and practice every single day.
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What Equipment is Required to Teach a Dog to Come?
Steps to Teach a Dog to Come
Start the Training Indoors First
Begin with shorter distances, like 10 or 15 feet indoors. Make eye contact with your dog and say “come” in a cheerful voice whenever you want him to. You can call your dog’s name but always follow their name with “come.” For extra encouragement, you can try patting your legs or clapping your hands. Continue saying the “come” command until your dog comes to you. As soon as they obey your command, give your dog a delicious treat.
Increase the Distance
The next step is to increase the distance. Repeat this process at longer distances, like going into another room or a different floor. If that doesn’t work, go back to the previous step and practice a couple more times before trying this again. Repetition is key.
Try to Distract
Find those things that distract your dog. Try to introduce a low-level distraction initially (i.e., their favorite toy) into the environment and practice the “come” command. Be sure to reward them with a treat and say “good boy” when they come to you.
Train Your Dog Outdoors
Once your dog has mastered the “come” command indoors, it is time to go outside. You can start in your backyard and then move to a park, practicing at increasing distances and with an increasing amount of distractions.
Pro Tips to Teach a Dog to Come
Use high-value rewards for positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the key. In the beginning, use high-value treats that you don’t offer your dog regularly. For example, a small bag of cooked chicken or hot dog bites, or perhaps string cheese, can motivate. If it is nice and stinky, that helps!
Non-food rewards work, too
Food rewards are always the best, but you can also try other prizes. For most dogs, taking them for a walk is a huge reward. “If you grab the leash, he knows you’re taking him for a walk.” So tell him to come, and if he obeys, then get the leash out.”
Your dog might not obey immediately, but he’ll soon associate “come” with fun rewards if he hears an audible clue like the leash, his ball, etc., after hearing the command. You can also use verbal praise like “good,” “good boy,” and petting to reward your dog for obeying. This can work well if your pup is already pretty familiar with this command.
Use walks, dinner, toys, and tasty treats as rewards to continually reinforce ‘come’ as a positive act.”
Start practicing the command indoors first
If you want reliable recall outdoors like parks, roads, etc., you need to have a dedicated memory in the house first. For example, if your dog is doing well indoors, he’ll do better outdoors.
Build up slowly to get your dog to come reliably. First, work your way to 100% reliability in the house, and then move outdoors where there are more chances for distractions and temptations.
Use “come” instead of the dog’s name
Using their name gets their attention but doesn’t notify them what to do, which is not the right way to train your dog.
It is difficult to give up this habit, but it is recommended to replace the “come” command with your dog’s name, ensuring your dog comes to you and is rewarded when they accomplish it.
Keep Your Tone Polite
Never try this command in an angry or frustrated tone in your voice. You want your dog to associate with the “come” command positively.
Do not force
If you find your dog not responding to the “come” command properly, stop the training and try after some time or the next day, as this might indicate your dog isn’t ready for training.
Make sure your dog comes to you
Dog owners sometimes use the “come” command to get their dog’s attention, but it can be confusing if you use this command inconsistently. To be an effective recall command, “come” should always mean come to you. Reward your dog for only coming to you. If not, it may give them the wrong idea of what the command means. Otherwise, the dog thinks ‘come’ means seeing them is good enough, and they don’t understand they have to come to you.
Also, please do not use this command for negative reasons or for sessions that your dog might not prefer, such as getting his nails trimmed, bathing, or isolation. Instead, ensure your pet finds the recall cue exciting and positive whenever you give the command.
How to Teach a Dog to Come- Videos
Teaching a dog to come is one of the most important things you can teach your dog as it could even save his life. Take sufficient time to train him right to ensure he’ll obey at the house as well as outdoors. Be consistent, stay positive, and reinforce the behavior you desire to see fruitful results.