There are many reasons that training your dog to return when you call it are important, and could be life saving, that’s why learning how to train the dog to come back when called, should be one of the most important lessons your dog will learn.
Reasons Why A Dog Should Come When Its Called
One of the main reasons is safety, imagine you are out with your dog and the lead snaps or maybe they slip out of their collar for some reason, and imagine you are walking in a busy area or along a road with lots of traffic, if a dog is properly trained then it will respond instantly when it hears its owner’s voice, and this part of your dog’s training could actually save its life, so the sooner you can train your dog to respond to this lesson the better.
Its is also a skill that needs to be trained with working dogs. Whether the dog’s job is protecting other animals, partner to a police officer on the job, or a sniffer dog at the airport, whatever they are doing a working dog must be under total control at all times, whether on or off the lead.
Even if your dog’s job is being a loyal companion and family member, it is still important that they learn the basics of training which includes recall.
When Do You start Training Your Dog To Come When Called?
After they have learnt the basic commands of sitting, waiting and walking to heel, then it is time to start incorporating the come when called lesson into their daily training.
The Most Important Thing About Training A Dog
Make it fun, that is my number one tip more than anything else. If your dog is bored it won’t be receptive to learning, the same as if you are bored training them you won’t be a good teacher.
So always incorporate fun things and play time into every training session with your dog. Introducing a few minutes of play time before the lesson begins can do great things for both yourself and your dogs attitude towards the training. Ending the training with a few minutes of play is a great way to help the dog associate learning with fun and not boredom.
Training My Dogs
Whenever I do any training with a dog, there are a few points I go by
- If you have multiple dogs train them separately, this is just my own personal preference, I have been to training classes with my dogs in the past as they are great for socialisation, but I have found that although training in a group has worked for some of my dogs for others I have found they have been a distraction, especially in the early days of training, or with some of my rescues.
- Have a safe enclosed area, where when you are ready to you can teach recall and let them off lead, I generally start training a dog inside the house, if you have a decent length hallway it makes a great place to start with recall, or even just a room with a bit of space, then when ready, move to an enclosed outside area for example a garden where you may have noises and birds etc that will be a great distraction to test against.
- And finally again I repeat make it fun, training should be kept to short sessions and should never be forced.
Steps Of Recall Training
OK so how many times have you seen someone shout their dog’s name while the dog is completely the other side of the park ignoring them, or heading towards an angry looking dog and its equally angry looking owner?
This is a situation I see far too often when out with my dogs, to the point where I would rather walk one of my rescue dogs who really doesn’t like other dogs he doesn’t know, early in the morning or later at night when there is no one round as we both enjoy the walk better without having to worry about out of control dogs bothering him.
Naturally when a person calls their dog or wants its attention they will use its name, so you have to get your dog used to hearing you use its name, to focus its attention, always call your dog in a calm voice, never shout or say it with an angry tone.
Start by just saying your dog’s name then when it looks at you praise it, say good boy, or good girl and maybe give a treat. Repeat this a few times but don’t treat all the time. And if your dog comes to you looking for treats just ignore it. Don’t over do these sessions literally just a few times then stop and do it again a bit later.
Calling your dog’s name and getting a response quickly and every time is the 1st stage in getting your dog to do anything, as once you have their attention you can move onto the next step of adding other commands.
Sit And Stay
So your dog is responding when you say its name, and they have learned the ‘Sit’ command and the ‘stay’ command these are often used in training lessons, and are also used in teaching recall.
Say your dog’s name to focus their attention then tell your dog to sit, and then wait, then holding the lead loose in your hand take a step back from your dog. If the dog begins to get up and follow you, return to the dog and ask it to sit again. Continue this process taking an extra step each time until you can reach the end of the lead without the dog getting up. Remember to praise your dog throughout the process as it correctly responds to your commands.
When you can successfully reach the end of the lead on a consistent basis, try dropping the lead altogether. Remember of course you should be doing this in an enclosed area.
After the dog has mastered the stay command, it is time to add the come when called command.
Adding the come when called command
This process is very similar to the previous sit and stay lesson, so with the dog on the end of the lead, after the sit and stay command say “come” or “come here”.
It may sometimes be helpful to use a prop when teaching this command. So using a treat or your dogs favourite toy as the prop will provide them with a visible item to focus on and is a good first step in training the dog to come when called.
As before, repeat this procedure many times until the dog will consistently sit, stay and come when called. After the dog has mastered coming when called while attached to the lead, slowly start introducing the concept while dropping the lead on the ground. As before, these training sessions should only take place in an enclosed, safe area.
Again remember to keep training sessions short so as not to lose your dogs attention through boredom which will then lead to your frustration.
In time your well trained, obedient dog should respond to the call to return to you no matter where it is and no matter what distractions may occur.
Another good tip is If you have a family member, friend or neighbour, that has a dog, ask them to come over with their dog and get them to stand just outside the fenced in area where you are, where your dog will be able to see them and then repeat the come when called exercise with your dog off lead. If your dog becomes distracted by the other dog, put the lead back on and repeat the process. The goal is to have your dog consistently pay attention to your commands, no matter what distractions are present.
I then usually start to walk around with my dog in the enclosed area without a lead on, let the dog go ahead a little and then call it back to you, if it comes right back praise your dog, you can then introduce games like throwing a toy or ball ahead of you and when the dog gets to the item give the command for them to come back to you, again praise them when they do.
So this is the way I have trained my own dogs to come when called. Remember this isn’t going to happen overnight, but just be consistent with your training and always be patient with your dog and in time you will have a dog that if ever off lead you will not have to worry about it returning to you when you need it too. I hope it helps anyone else having problems teaching this to their own dogs, so just keep the lessons short make them fun, and also remember some dogs learn quicker than others so just be patient, and take it one step at a time and sometimes you may have to take a step backwards, but eventually you will get there.
If you have any questions or comments, or you have any other ideas people may find of help please feel free to reply to this post.