Becoming a dog owner comes with a lot of perks – including being able to look forward to training it so it learns a lot of new tricks!
However, a responsible dog owner will want to prioritize something else before all the fun and games – and that is teaching your dog recall.
Teaching your dog to come to you when called is very important, safety-wise.
If you are in public and you anticipate a dangerous situation wherein harm might come to your dog, you will naturally want a trick that will automatically get your dog to approach you if needed.
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Having said that, it can be quite challenging for many dog owners to achieve this. Especially if they do not know the right strategies to get their dog to learn it quickly.
Read on ahead to know the best way to train them. In no time at all, you will gain the confidence in being able to call your dog and knowing that he will definitely come back to you – even from anywhere!
Setting the Environment for Success
In training your dog to come when called, the first consideration is always to set the environment. This is so your dog will be safe and meet success in the best possible way.
In line with this, it is always best to begin your training at home – a familiar and confined space that you have control over.
Once success is met in the controlled environment, you can then move on to a new place that is still familiar to your pooch. But it is also a little bit more distracting to challenge him. Every time you achieve success in a new place, take it one level higher!
Making Training a Happy Experience
For your dog to reach success in training to come when called, it is always important to make the experience a happy one.
This means turning practice sessions into games (which is much more motivating to your dog than mere drills), using a happy voice when calling your dog (he will respond better if he knows you are excited for him to come to you), and using treats as come-ons (because you’ll definitely want to reward him for following your command).
But what if your dog is not the type to be motivated by a high-energy and enthusiastic approach?
There’s no reason to persist with this then, and the best thing to do is to try a softer and calmer approach which might be better for dogs that are reserved.
Look Out for Small Signals
When you are training your dog to come when called, it is imperative that you remain observant for the smallest signals that indicate his awareness of you.
If you call him and he looks back at you yet remains interested in whatever it is that he is currently engrossed in at the moment, this should signal to you that he acknowledges you but isn’t sure if he should come when called.
When this happens, seize the moment! Do all you can to ensure that they maintain that mindset and finally come to a decision that going back to you is better than remaining where he is.
Adjusting the Distance
If your dog is making its way to you and then suddenly decides to go somewhere else mid-way, what you should do is adjust the distance between yourself and where your dog is currently occupied.
This increases your chance for success and allows your dog to make its way to you without getting pulled away by other distractions. Since it only takes a few steps to reach Point A (object of interest) to Point B (you). Don’t forget to reward him generously!
The Surprise Call
One important aspect of training your dog to come to you is being able to call your dog when he least expects it. This will come in handy especially in safety situations.
Practice calling him when your back is turned away, or at random times outside the usual training sessions that you do regularly.
You can even practice this while assuming out of the ordinary poses (lying on the floor, for example).
This might confuse the dog at first because he has never seen you in such a position. But it will also allow him to learn the general concept of coming when called as opposed to just being familiar with the training protocols.
Throw in New (Yet Manageable Distractions)
Every time you take the training exercise one level higher, don’t forget to include new distractions that will really test your dog’s ability to stay focused and come when called.
For example, when you are training in a new yet still-familiar place, you can enlist a friend to stand in the middle distance between yourself and another family member.
This friend can clap at your dog as he makes his way towards you, forcing him to really think and decide if he should stay focused on the goal of reaching you or entertain this new distracting thing.
Be Ready to Grab!
Practicing recall training in new environments can be better if you turn it into a game, as mentioned before. However, when this happens you have to be extra alert because your dog might get carried away.
He might think that the whole point of the exercise is a chase and may then run past you with the expectation that you will follow him.
As soon as he is around a foot away, open your arms and be ready to envelope him in your arms. This also acts as a physical signal for him to stop because he has already succeeded.
Teaching your dog to come when called will require many weeks and months of training until it becomes automatic. Always exercise patience in training your pooch, because in the end it will definitely be worth it!
Keeping it fun and rewarding will always be the best approach. Don’t be surprised if your relationship with your dog will be made better as a result if you choose to pursue training him with this kind of mindset!
Here’s the next step:
If you’d like something as a reminder when you are recall training your dog, then download the bonus below.
You’ll receive a free step-by-step checklist that shows you the process to ensure your dog comes to you every time you call.
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I love your approach for training. I have a question though. I have a dog (fox hound) that is not food motivated at all! He is also quite anxious. So when he is in a new, possibly stressful situation he won’t even look at treats! We’ve tried the good stuff too – cheese, hotdogs. We are trying to train him to come on command, but if he has another interest – I can’t even drag him away let alone lure him with a treat. I’ve had several dogs before but none that haven’t been trainable with treats. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!