By Victoria Schade
Teaching your dog to come when called can be a lifesaver. But a strong recall also helps keep your relationship with your dog frustration-free. Coming when called is super easy to teach, but takes dedication to get your dog to respond to it no matter what. It helps if you make the foundation steps of this command easy and fun, so your dog learns that coming to you is a very good thing!
First, pick a word that doesn’t have baggage for your dog. If he’s learned to ignore the word “come” use something like “here” instead. And don’t use your dog’s name as your recall word – you probably say it all the time and the word you use for this cue needs to be special.
To teach it, grab a partner and some super tasty treats and go to a quiet room in your house. Kneel down, say the word “here” once with a happy tone of voice, and then whistle, clap your hands or make kissy noises to encourage your dog to run to you. He won’t know what “here” means at first, so the noises will help him figure it out.
When your dog gets to you, give him the treat and have a praise party. You want him to think he’s a genius for what he just did! Then, have your partner call your dog back and give a treat and lots of praise. Repeat this process until your dog is racing from person to person each time you call.
Then make it tougher on your dog; hide in another room! You’ll probably have to whistle a bit more as he hones in on you, to help give him clues. At this point training will seem like a game of hide and seek, which is exactly the idea. Have fun with it!
Once your dog is a pro at the game inside, move out to your yard or a safe enclosed area. Working outside means you’ll be competing with distractions, so use a super special treat like cheese or hot dogs.
Your dog is going to be a recall pro in and around your house in controlled situations. But that doesn’t mean that he’ll be able to do the same thing at a crowded dog park or when he wants to chase a squirrel. So, make sure to work together as a team frequently to master your dog’s recall ability, and eventually your dog will come to you whenever he’s called.