Teaching your dog to come to you
Struggling with a recall command? Check out our effective training tips that will make your dog come to you when called with 100% reliability
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Teaching your dog to come to you

Dogs are awesome for a number of reasons including their ability to interact with an owner. As a new dog owner, you want to be able to be in full control of your pet's life, especially when you go outside together. Therefore, teaching a dog to come back to you when called (recall) is an essential part of training serving as a strong foundation for further advancement. Besides, it feels extremely reassuring when you can have your dog by your side at any time no matter where it is and what it is doing.
Why you need to teach your dog recall

A recall is a basic dog training technique that is extremely useful, first and foremost, when it comes to safety. Taking your dog outside is essential, and ensuring its safety must be every dog owner's first priority. Dogs are prone to such situations as running off and getting lost, hit by a car or getting in a fight with other pets or wildlife. So it is your responsibility to prevent those situations by teaching a recall command and making it reliable. A reliable recall is one that works 100% of the time, don't confuse it with accidental recalls when your dog comes running to the sound of opened food or something similar.

In order to train a reliable recall, you must understand one simple rule: dogs like pleasant things and dislike unpleasant things, which is a general rule for all existing forms of life. Therefore, if you call your dog for something like taking a bath or scolding, your command will become less and less effective over time. You need to create a strong association of your recall with a positive experience to make your dog come running to you every time. Your recall must be more rewarding and fun than whatever your dog can do on its own.
Recall training tips

  • Don't use recall if you need to do something unpleasant for your dog, like medical treatment or a bath. It is better to go and get it by yourself. Overusing recall may hamper the training process.

  • Use high-quality treats that your dog is crazy about instead of some boring cookie. The same applies to toys, as a favorite one can be used in training.

  • Make sure that your dog has adequate activity during the day. If you go outside and get it off-leash with a "full battery", chances are, your recalls may be ignored.

  • Get a leash at least 10 meters long so that you could stop your dog from running off during the training while providing it enough freedom. It is also best to use a harness instead of a collar, as there will be a lot of pulling action, and you don't want to hurt your pet in the process.

  • Start your recall training in an environment that is not too distracting for your dog. Starting out in a crowded park wouldn't be such a good idea. Try practicing recall at home or in your backyard first.

  • Grab the dog's attention before training a recall command. It is unlikely that you will get any results if your dog is distracted.

  • Think of a cue word associated with the recall. It can be "come", "here" or any other but it is also important to use the dog's name before the command.
Useful games to play with your dog

Catch me. To kickstart your recall training, you can play a simple game with your pup while walking it on a leash. Make sure that your dog is paying attention and try to run off from it saying the cue word as it starts to follow you. Stop after a few steps and reward with a treat.

Find me. Try calling your dog at home from another room. This will make things interesting for your dog as it wouldn't have any visual cue, only sound. When your dog finds you, reward with praise and treats.

Hot potato. It takes several people to play this game. Give each a high-value treat and make them take turns calling your dog. Reward your pet each time it reaches a person who called it.
Common mistakes

Many dog owners do one thing that puts even an already trained recall at risk. They use a recall when they're about to go home, stopping the fun for a dog. Always remember that over time, your dog may associate the recall command with a negative experience. Stopping play and coming home is among those.

Overusing a verbal recall cue may result in your dog ignoring this command. Try not to repeat your cue too often and if you've already spoiled it, try using another one.

Chasing your dog may reinforce behavior that makes it run away from you. In an emergency, you don't want this to happen. Make it chasing you during your playtime.

Even if it takes too long for your dog to respond to your recall and it makes you angry, never tell it off when it finally comes to you. Remember, that it may reinforce the association with a negative experience, so keep your cool.

If you want to avoid all kinds of mistakes in dog training, download our eTrainDog app, where you will find exclusive and thorough programs from some of the most accomplished trainers. Start small and use helpful tools to become an expert dog trainer yourself!
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