Teach Your Dog To Come When Called

November 4, 2018
Constant training and positive reinforcement is the best way to get your dog to come when you call. This command is extremely important, especially in dangerous situations.

Calling your dog is one of the basic commands you need to have established with them. Some dogs can learn it on their own, while others have a harder time getting it down.  If your dog is one of those that have troubles learning this command, then take a look at the following tips to make their training easier. That way your dog will come when called.

Why is it important for your dog to able to come when called?

Out of all the commands, a dog can learn, having them come when called is probably the most important. It’s not just about telling them that it’s time to leave the parkits’ also necessary in case of a dangerous situation.  

That’s why it’s good to teach your dog to come when called. It’s best to start as early as possible and make sure they are completely listening to you 100% of the time. You never know when you’ll really need it.

Puppies learn very fast, and this is one command they’ll need to follow throughout their entire life. However, don’t worry if your adult dog doesn’t do it yet because they are able to learn it too. Dogs never stop being able to learn: if yours is over 5 years old, they can probably still grasp this command.

Use positive reinforcement

If you want your call to work all the time, your dog needs to associate it with a positive experience. This command should be so nice that your dog stops what they are doing and comes to you. That’s why positive reinforcement is such an important command, so reward your dog any time they follow your directions. 

Dog coming to his owner when called

You can use a lot of things as a reward, but the most satisfying thing to use is usually food. Things like sausage, dry meat, or dog treats are some of the most common. It doesn’t always have to be the same thing. You can try different things and figure out what your dog likes the most.

Don’t scold them when they mess up. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. If they don’t know when they are doing something wrong, then how can they know when they are doing it right? Be patient the first few times you practice and focus when your dog correctly follows your directions.

Establish the command

To establish a call, you should start by choosing a simple word to use when you want your dog to come. The most common is obviously “come,” but anything works. Choose just one word and make sure the rest of your family only uses that word.

To teach your dog the command, you’ll say the word once, and then your dog’s name. When they come up to you, give them a reward. Don’t wait for them to sit or ask for it. Give it to them as soon as they come when you call, that way they will connect coming to your side with the reward, and nothing else.

Dog coming with a stick in his mouth

Follow these two steps to teach your dog this command:

Step #1

Start doing it at home, with your dog just a few feet away. That makes it easier for them to understand what you’re asking, and there are fewer distractions.

  1. Say the word you chose, then your dog’s name.
  2. If they don’t listen, you can try other words, sounds, or movements… Just remember, only give the command once. Repeating it will only get them confused.
  3. The moment your dog comes to your side, give them a reward.

Move a few more steps away and repeat. After a few successful tries, your dog will understand that when you say that word, you want them to come. When you say the command and your dog starts walking towards you, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step #2

Do this step at home, but you’ll need help from your family or friends. Sit down in a circle in a big room, or spread out between a few. Tell them how the command works, and then have them say it at random, making sure your dog goes to each of them when they call. Remember:

  • Only give the command once. You can use other words, sounds, or movements to get your dog’s attention.
  • Give them the reward the moment they come when you call.  

Do a couple rounds of this, and once your dog has it down, you can then practice it outside. Only gradually raise the difficulty. You can begin inside your home at a one on one basis with your dog, then in a group setting at home, then have the group spread further apart.

how to get your dog to come when you call

When you go outside, start in a place that doesn’t have many distractions or people around. Then increase the distance. Only once your dog is able to come when you call, you can then try calling him when they are playing with another dog.

Remember that there are a lot of stimuli outside. So be patient if your dog takes a few seconds to concentrate. The important thing is that it comes, not that it does it fast.

It’s important to gradually raise the difficulty. You’re asking too much of your dog when they try to move fast, and the command won’t work. Gradually try new environments and challenges so they learn there’s always a reward and it’s worth stopping what they are doing to come to you.

What to do now

Once the command works at a park, surrounded by other dogs and noises, that means your dog has officially learned how to come when called. However, it’s important that you should never stop practicing.

Bring treats to the park every once and a while and give them the command to come. You can even bring them every time you practice the command or at random.  

Calling your dog is an important part of living together, and it’s also vital for their safety. It’s an easy command to teach and practice, so never stop, even once your dog has learned it.