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How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

Recall commands are more advanced than most other dog commands. However, a recall is essential for every dog to learn, even if it takes them a little bit to learn it! If your dog sneaks out of the house, a recall command can eliminate the need to chase them down. Some breeds can even be trusted off leash if they know a solid recall command. 

We recommend every dog learn a recall command in the case of an emergency. Even if you aren’t planning on letting your dog off-leash, they will find themselves roaming free at some point, and a recall command can help ensure that they return home instead of running the other way. 

It is normal to run into a few hiccups when training this command. After all, you’re training your dog to leave whatever very interesting thing they’re looking at and return to boring old you. In this article, we’ll help you overcome these hurdles and teach your dog to come when called. 

The Reliable Recall

The term “reliable recall” is often thrown around by trainers. If your dog has a reliable recall, they will come back to you 99.9% of the time. If your dog has a reliable recall, they can often be trusted off-leash, and you can lean on this command during dangerous situations. 

You should be aware of the leash laws in your area before letting your dog wander, though. Even if your dog has a reliable recall, leash laws still apply. Often, leash laws are applicable in your front yard if it isn’t fenced-in. While your dog may be perfectly fine off a leash, someone may see your canine and assume it is okay for their dog to be off-leash as well, even if their dog doesn’t have a reliable recall. Keeping your dog leashed is essential to prevent potentially dangerous dogs from roaming around. 

Training a Reliable Recall

Training your dog to come consistently when called often requires many smaller steps. You shouldn’t expect miracles overnight. Small, consistent steps are important. Don’t make huge leaps in what you’re asking your dog to do and always set the dog up for success. If you think they may not be ready for something that you’re asking, stop asking. 

Your training should start in a low-distraction area your dog is familiar with. Some fenced-in yards are suitable for this, but if you live in a busy neighborhood, this is often not the best option. Inside your home works well, especially if you’re the only other person home at the time. 

If your dog already knows the “come” command, you can simply start building off of that. If they don’t, you’ll need to teach them to come. Simply stand a few feet away from them, say “come,” and then show them a treat. Give them the treat after they cross the few feet of space to you. Slowly increase the distance. Eventually, you want to take away the draw of the treat, while still treating them when they get to you – just don’t show them the treat in an attempt to make them come. 

The Importance of “Come Here” Training Before Boarding

One of the most beneficial commands you can teach your dog, especially when considering boarding or other pet accommodations, is the “come here” command. This basic yet crucial command can significantly aid in the transition of your pet to a new environment, ensuring that caregivers can effectively manage and control your dog in unfamiliar settings.

Mastering the “Come Here” Command

Training your dog to respond reliably to the “come here” command starts with consistency. Begin the training in a quiet, familiar environment. Hold a treat in your hand and, with enthusiasm, say “come here” or just “come”. As soon as your dog comes to you, reward them immediately with the treat and heaps of praise. Over time, gradually increase the distance and introduce distractions. The goal is for your dog to respond to the command irrespective of the environment or distractions around. Remember, the key to this training, as with any other dog training, is patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

Incorporating this command into your dog’s skill set will not only give you peace of mind but will also assure the staff at the boarding facility that your dog can be managed effectively. It’s a win-win for everyone involved and ensures your pet’s safety and well-being during their stay.

Challenging Your Dog

Your dog will never develop a reliable recall if you don’t challenge them. It isn’t very difficult for your dog to come when you’re the only interesting thing in the area. It is a completely different story when your dog is in an open field and sees a deer. 

You should challenge your dog in a variety of different ways. You don’t only want to increase the distance between you. Again, it is very easy for a dog to travel any distance to come back to you until they are met with a distraction. 

Here are a few ways to challenge your dog and build their reliable recall:

Hide-and-Seek

This game is fairly simple. Start by hiding somewhere pretty obvious, like on the other side of a doorway or a wall. Then, tell your dog to “come.” Your dog should search around for a second before finding you, at which point you should treat them. If your dog seems to enjoy this game, you can make it even harder by hiding somewhere actually difficult. High-value, smelly treats work well for this. 

Many more intelligent breeds like this game, as it challenges them mentally. If you have a Border Collie or similar dog, this is a great way to build their recall and keep them entertained. 

Enlist the Family

To challenge your dog even further, you can play hide-and-seek with multiple people. Give everyone a treat and have them hide somewhere easy in separate rooms. Have someone yell “come” and give your dog a treat. Then, have someone else command your dog to “come”. At first, many canines have a hard time leaving the first person. With some encouragement, though, they should come to understand that anyone saying “come” has yummy treats for them. 

Common Mistakes

You should never repeat yourself more than once when telling a dog to come. If you do, the command may begin to lose meaning and your dog will get very good at ignoring it. If your dog doesn’t come the first time, go to a different location and then try again. If the dog continues not to come, you’re likely trying something too difficult. 

You should never chase your dog. Many will interpret this as playing and will run away from you – the opposite of what you want! Instead, you can try laying down on the ground, which often confuses dogs. Alternatively, playful dogs may chase you if you turn around and run – right through the front door. 

Consider your dog’s breed and disposition throughout the training process. Some independent breeds like Huskies are unlikely to learn a recall quickly – they will need a lot of repetition and consistency. The more time you spend practicing, the sooner your dog will have a reliable come command.

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