Having the ability to call your dog to come to you is one of the most important skills your dog can develop. It is very likely that a strong recall could one day save his life! Sadly, it is also one of the most difficult skills to develop. There are just so many interesting things to see and smell in the world!
First, help your dog understand what is expected of him when you say ‘Come’. Once that is established, only then can you start to challenge your dog to come to you from a distance and with distractions.
To help you out, we’d like to offer you some tips.
Build a relationship
Your dog should look to you as a helper, a leader, and a friend — and the hallmarks of those relationships are mutual respect, trust, loyalty, and love. If you have a strong bond with your dog, he is much more likely to be interested in you and ready to come when you call him. This is a critical, but often overlooked contributing factor to a solid recall
Being a provider means giving your dog food, water, attention and love, but without being butler Being a leader means ask your dog to work for every resource he receives even if it’s a simple sit for food or play. Being a friend means to treat your dog with respect and to show affection.
Don’t expect that you can take your dog for a walk in the backyard and say the word ‘come’ and expect him to come happily trotting your way! During your dog training at Dog Training Now, we ask your dog to come with minimal distractions to us and then automatically sit when he comes to you. This is how we determine what we’re looking for when we issue the command “Come”. When your dog comes to you reliably from a short distance, then you can begin adding distance and distractions. Delay the foundation first!
You ask your dog to do something he truly doesn’t HAVE to do because he is not on a leash. You have no way to KEEP him coming to you; therefore, you’d better decide that coming to you is to be rewarding for him!
When you try to get your dog to come, speak his name to get his attention and then issue the command “Come”. The moment that your pup even shows some hint of moving toward you or even looks at you, go over the top with love and praise and don’t be afraid of going silly. Your neighbors may laugh at you, but your dog will find you interesting better than the squirrel he chased. Continue to praise him back to you. You may feel ridiculously ugly, but it will work!
When your little boy gets to you, you have to deliver what you were selling. After he sits close to you, you can release him with ‘Ok’ and then have a huge celebration! He exactly did what you asked of him and deserves a reward for it. You might even choose to reward him with treats when he comes to you. However, he should not get treats each time and certainly don’t use the sound of the bag of treats to get him to come to you first. We need him to come to you not as treats!
If you practice the command “Come” simply release your dog with “OK”, give him his celebration and then let him return to what he was doing – which is even more rewarding!
If you send the command’s “Come”, if your dog is concerned you have a good reason to do so. You asked him to come to you because you need him for some reason or even to save him from harm. Allowing your dog to think about whether he would like to come to you for a few seconds will stop the skill from being as reliable as you would like.
If you issue the command “Come” and your dog chooses to ignore you even when you sell yourself, we recommend placing him on a long leash in the backyard, so you can communicate with him from a distance. If he chooses to ignore you, you’re able to give a small correction with a timed out “No Come” and then go immediately to selling yourself when he realizes that you are serious.
It’s quite important that you do not use harsh tones or gestures. Nervous dogs will often slow down, crouch or worse still run in the opposite direction. It is important to focus on being positive and if you need to apply a leash correction to get him towards you, it should be the minimal correction needed to get his attention, immediately followed by selling yourself back!
Be Consistent! Be Consistent
As with all of your dog’s skills, practising and sticking to the rules is crucial. He is expected to respond to the word “Come” every time you ask him and if he chooses not to, return the difficulty level to restore the foundation. A reliable recall can be established for all dogs — it requires time and practice — but it’s time well spent.