The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

How To Train Your Dog to COME When Called

By Bradley Phifer

Training your dog to come when called is one of the most important commands to teach. While it can certainly be handy inside the home, it is also a life-saver when your dog gets out of the house accidentally or encounters something dangerous. Begin this training with patience and consistency and you’ll have a dog who comes on command in no time.

How to:

  • When you are first teaching come, practice indoors with low distractions. Say your dog’s name, immediately followed by come. When he begins running towards you, encourage him with a verbal good boy.
  • When he gets to you, grab his collar and begin 10 seconds of uninhibited verbal praise and several, small, tasty food rewards then release him. Repeat at least five times each day, always offering a big reward for coming when called.
  • When your dog is predictably coming indoors with low distractions, take him outside to a secure area – fenced yard. Allow him to run around and be a dog. When he checks-in (comes up on his own) reward him with a food reward.
  • After three or four natural check-ins, call your dog to you as in the first exercise. When he arrives, grab his collar and begin 10 seconds of uninhibited verbal praise and several, small, tasty food rewards then release him.
  • Continue adding small distractions and more distance as your dog becomes more predictable about coming when called.

Training Tips

  • If you call your dog to you and he doesn’t respond, don’t continue to call him. Walk over to where he is, get his attention and then call him to you. Be sure to reward him for responding. Never chase your dog after you have called him. You don’t want to turn this into a game! If he is not responding, you can also clap your hands, make loud fun noises to get his attention and then run in the opposite direction so that he chases you. It’s counter-intuitive, but it often works.
  • Practice come as many times per day as possible, but always set your dog up for success. Pair his response with food, praise, petting or something else your dog loves. Never hit, yell or punish your dog for coming to you for any reason.
  • Avoid calling your dog to you prior to ending a play session at the dog park, placing medicine in a sore ear or engaging in any other unpleasant event.

It is very important to remember that coming when called must result in something positive. If you call your dog to scold or punish him, he will think he is being punished for coming and will not want to come next time you call him. 

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