The “Come” command is arguably the most important of all obedience commands. Not only is it very useful, but it offers great safety benefits.
This article is not a step-by-step tutorial on how to teach a reliable recall, as that is too in-depth for one article. Instead, we are going to cover 6 tips to immediately improve your dog’s recall.
Follow Through – One of the biggest mistakes owners make is telling their dog to “Come”, but having no way to reinforce the command. By doing this, your dog learns they can ignore, which patterns the wrong behavior.
Ensure that you have a way to enforce a reliable recall, such as leash to guide the dog. This will help pattern the correct behavior of coming when called every time.
Never Associate With Punishment – Make sure you are not calling your dog to you and then scolding them for something they did “wrong”. Obviously your dog will not come if it ends in an undesirable way. Also avoid unintentional punishment of telling your dog to “Come” and then immediately sending them in the crate or you leaving the home.
Instead, after calling your dog to you, have them perform a few obedience commands or play a quick game. Then put them in the crate or leave for the day. By adding in something fun, your dog does not look at it as unintentional punishment.
Use HIGH Value Rewards – Get in the habit of rewarding your dog for coming to you (every time). This will help develop a positive association and increase the likelihood of a successful recall. The key is to use exceptionally high value treats (ex. turkey, chicken, liver, etc.), not just bland dog food.
Train Frequently But Not Excessively – The secret to improving any obedience command is massive repetition, so practice the recall multiple times each day. Just don’t overdo it to the point of your dog becoming disinterested in training and ignoring your command. Maintain interest and engagement for the best success.
Be Animated – If you tell your dog to “Come” using a boring voice while standing still like a tree, no wonder your dog does not want to listen. Use a high pitch voice, immediately start praising (“Good Boy” or “Good Girl”) as soon as they start to move, and begin slowly walking backwards. These animated actions will help foster their excitement to come to you.
Gradual Progression – As with anything, start with the basics and improve from there. Keep distance and distractions low and gradually progress. If you do too much too soon, you will crash and burn. Slow and steady will win the race in any obedience training.
I hope you find these 6 tips helpful in improving your dog’s recall command.
Steve Reid is a professional dog trainer and owner of S.R. Dog Training in Westchester NY. To learn more about S.R. Dog Training, visit www.srdogtraining.com. Also become a fan of Steve on Facebook at: www.Facebook.com/SRDogTraining.