Perhaps the most important lesson that you can teach your dog is how to teach a dog to come when called. This training technique is also known as recall. This is something that can give your dog freedom which other dogs that do not respond so consistently and quickly can not.
This can help in many different situations, when something could happen if the leash or you could just let it go for some reason. If your dog can respond quickly when hearing your call to come back, this could be even life saving, and you would be thankful if you have thought your dog obeying this command.
When starting the training for calling the dog to come back, the first thing for the trainer is to undo all the training that the owner has done so far. After that a level for obedience is proceeded so that the results desired by the owner can be achieved.
Here comes the question – why does the dog need such training and the owner had actually achieved the opposite result instead of teaching the dog to come when it is called.
How the owner sabotages the dog training?
The owner makes one really big mistake – he releases the dog off leash and leaves it unattended. When the dog is running freely in the park with the other dogs, it learns that this time does not include his owner and the dog feels free. And when it is called to come back, the dog learns that it will be put on the leash to go home so all the fun is over.
It quickly understands that delaying the time for coming back gives more time to play. Then the owner starts calling the dog repeatedly, and the dog knows after some time that it can come back after several callings.
It finds out that when ignoring this owner, is more rewarding than coming at once. The other reason for ignoring the calls of the owner is because people usually punish their dogs when they do not do what they are told. So why should the dog come back? On one side, ignoring the calls gives the dog the reward of playing more with his friends. On the other hand it is punished when coming back for not coming at once. So there is nothing positive for the dog in order to obey his owner.
Some owners do that intentionally. And usually the call is ‘Come here! You are a bad dog!’ So the dog comes and it is punished. After a couple of times it is no surprising that the dog refuses to come.
That is why owners should really pay attention to the way they treat and teach their dog. When they punish the dog several times when it comes when called, this could destroy weeks of formal training. The dog should always stay on leash and to be like that until is properly thought to come to his owner on command. This is achieved with short and infrequent sessions. Not with all the time training. If the owner has chosen to attend obedience classes with his dog, then he needs to repeat the exercises only 5 minutes per day, or not more than 15 minutes as an exception. But what is happening with the dog during the rest of the day and the night, which is more than 23 hours. The dog is always learning because it interacts with its owner, and every time when this happens, the dog always learns something new.
Not to do:
– NEVER call your dog when you are planning to do something that the dog does not enjoy. Some dogs do not like bathing or nails clapping, so when you need to do that, just go and get your dog without calling it. You need to build trust in your dog that every time when call it, something wonderful would happen, not the opposite.
– AVOID repeating your call more than one time. If you are calling the dog several times and it does not come, you only teach your dog to ignore you.
– DO NOT call your dog when you know that in the respective situation it will not be willing to comply. For example, when it is playing with other dogs, when it is chewing a piece of pizza. You need to choose the situation when teaching your dog to come on command because when you call it and it does not come, the only thing that you can teach your dog is to ignore you.
What you should actually expect?
You need to realize that dogs are not machines and they can not always respond your command. Just like people, they also have good and bad days. Sometimes they do not feel well; in other situations they could pay attention to something else. And whether we like it or not, sometimes out training could be confusing for the dog.
There is also another important thing when we talk about recall training. There are some differences in teaching different breeds. Some breeds are more difficult when you have to train them, because they can not be so easily motivated by toys and treats.
You need to be more creative when you think about some interesting toys like furry toys for example, or when you choose a delicious treat, like gorgonzola cheese. Beagles and coonhounds are also not so easy to be trained, because they get easily destructed by scents around them. This does not mean that they can not be trained to come when called, but you need to prepare yourself that it will take more time and you have to be more patient.
But no matter what breed your dog is, the most important thing when training your dog to come on a command is to teach your dog in understanding the command and obeying it, which means to come, not to choose to do something else.
It is also important that the dog recognizes its own name. You may use it all the time and during the whole day, but it still could mean anything to the dog. When you are ready with this – when your dog pays attention to you when you call its name, then you are ready to start with training the dog.
What is the first step for training a dog to come?
The most important thing that you need to do as a condition in order to start the training is to motivate your dog, so that it is ready to learn. You can do this by using a piece of kibbles that you can wave in front of the dog’s nose when it is the regular time for eating. When you get your dog’s attention, then you will know that it is ready to learn.
If it does not show any interest towards the kibble, then you should wait for an hour or two and try again. Perhaps you many need to skip one meal so that the dog finally shows interest. Do not worry about that so that your dog will not starve of hunger. But you need to do that especially if you constantly give your dog lots of attention and affection, so it will be more difficult to motivate it.
In this case the dog thinks that it should not bother so much just for a kibble when it gets a steak for just looking so cute. But when you have seriously decided that you are going to start with training your dog, then you have to be strong and put your dog on a strict feeding schedule and you need to withhold with all the tears and barking. And for the dogs that are used to great treats, you can use something really yummy to get their attention like gravy or baby food chicken.
What are the basics for that training?
You will know that the dog is ready to be trained, when it finally says: ‘I am hungry enough to do anything for some food!’ Then you can start. First, give the dog a few kibbles for free. Then wave another piece in front of its nose and go a few steps back.
When the dog comes to you, immediately give the food. But because you have to properly teach your dog, that is why when the dog comes to you, the first thing that you must do is to get its collar and then give the food. Some dogs just run away after taking the kibble because they do not allow to be touched. From their experience they think that touching them is always connect to some bad news.
You must repeat the training sessions at every meal and every time when you call your dog, you have to quickly run backwards. With time you can build on that exercise and make it more advanced by making the dog to sit and stay when called. The best is to repeat that session when the dog is motivated. If you sense that the dog is losing interest and gets bored, you need to stop immediately with the training. Repeat the same exercises when it is time for the next meal.
After some time, when you see that the dog responds as it is supposed to do, you need to start with reducing the amount of the food rewards. Now the dog should receive a reward when it comes quickly and with desire. And the reward is not only one kibble, but for example one fourth of the dog’s usual meal.
You can make the exercises for teaching your dog to come when called together with your family. All you need is your yard, where you can go and stand with the members of your family. And while they are standing quietly at different places in the yard, and your dog is walking or running freely, just call it after some time using slapping, clapping and all the favorite noises that your dog has.
When it comes, hold it by the collar and say: ‘Good girl’ or ‘Good boy’. Give a treat and leave the dog to eat it without being bothered. After that let another family member call the dog. If it wants to stay with you, you can look away from the dog, put your hands behind your back and give the chance to someone else to call the dog.
When one of the members of your family calls the dog, all the others should remain silent and still. In such a way the dog will not get confused and it will quickly learn how to play this game. After some time you can even make the game more difficult by start hiding in different rooms.
A few other training motivators and random recalls
It is not so surprising that many dogs do not run towards their owners when they hear certain phrases like for example – ‘Do you want to go for a walk?’ or ‘Are you ready to go for a ride with the car?’ The reason for not responding to these words is because these dogs are used to associate certain noises with the actions. So they will quickly run to you when they hear the car keys jungle or the door of the closet where you keep the leash.
If you know that your dog responds really well to these noises, then use the cheerful phrase: ‘Come here!’ every time when you perform such an action. You need to repeat that at least several times a day. After that you can try another exercise. Call your dog with the phrase ‘come here’ and if it has already learned to recognize it, when it comes, put the leash on the dog’s neck and prepare to go for a walk.
If the dog does not come, you can take the leash and jingle it a bit. When your dog hears the noise, it will run towards you, but here you need to ignore it. The dog will get confused why you are jingling with the leash if you are not planning a walk. So when you practice this, the next time you will get an immediate response when you call the words ‘come here!’ Even though the dog does not know what these words mean, it associates them with something great that is going to happen.
Recalls while the dog is on leash
You can spend some time to teach your dog to come on a command while you are walking and your dog is on leash. You can use a six-foot leash so that is the distance that you need. So while you are walking you can take out a tasty treat in front of your dog’s nose, wave it a bit and say ‘Come here’ with a happy and cheerful tone. Then move a few steps away from the dog.
When it comes to you, praise it with rewards – tasty treats and favorite toys. When your dog is happy with this exercise, you can continue with a ‘running back recalls’. Here, you call your dog, reach it forward and have a treat in front of its nose, then run quickly backwards, waiting for the dog to come to you. When the dog comes, it receives the reward.
If it does not come, you can get its attention by tugging gently on the leash. The first few times praise the dog as if you would do this when it comes on its own, but after a few repetitions you need to show the dog that it will get a reward only when it comes.
The Restrained Recall
This exercise is based on the desire that your dog has to chase someone or something. If you want to achieve an effect, you need two people for this game. Your assistant can hold the dog while it becomes really excited to chase you. You better do this in an enclosed area so that your dog is safe while it is off the leash.
So jump a bit in front of the dog, wave a favorite toy, tease it a bit and when you see that you get its full attention, say: ‘Are you ready?’ and start running. Then call the dog’s name to come to you. Keep calling it while you are running, without looking back if your dog is coming.
Your assistant should hold the dog for a few seconds after you start running. The ideal variant will be if the dog follows you immediately when it is off the leash. When it comes to you, praise it with a yummy treat.
Do not worry if your dog does not understand the game right away. Some dogs could be frightened with so much excitement and prefer staying with the assistant or run off that environment. After a couple of repetitions, the dog should start enjoying the game.
It is important to hold your dog on the leash until you feel that you can rely on it to come when called. You can start achieving that goal with a long line or a rope, attached to the collar. You can use it while you are walking in the park; just make sure that it is not tight and at least 20 feet long. Allow the rope to drag on the ground, giving enough freedom to your dog.
Praise your dog every time when it turns to look at you. After some time you will start feeling when your dog is about to turn. When you recognize the signs, call your dog right before that. Praise your dog when it finds you and keep encouraging it to come to you. When your dog comes by your side, praise it with delicious treat.
You need to work with your dog after that for improving its reliability. Repeat the exercises when your dog is a bit distracted. Even though it is playing or running, you should insist to turn to you when you call it. Never forget to reward it every time when the dog responds in the desired way.