How To Teach Your Dog To Come When You Call

Would you like your dog to come whenever you call their name? If so, this guide was written for you.

Making sure your dog listens and responds when you call them is a crucial part of basic obedience, but it can be tricky to master if your dog doesn’t seem to listen to you!

So with this in mind, we’re going to share some tips and advice on training your dog to come back to you both indoors and outdoors – as well as getting your dog to listen to you when it matters.

As a responsible dog owner, it must be your absolute priority to ensure your dog will come back to you when you call, especially when you’re outside of the house. So let’s begin.

Is Your Dog Hungry?

Initially, it’s best to teach your dog to come when they’re hungry and alert.

A good way of doing this is to divide your dog’s meal up into a few equal portions, and during the day use their name, followed by the ‘come’ command, to call them to their food bowl for each different portion of their meal for that day.

In general, a dog will be more responsive when they’re hungry, and it will also make food treats more motivating. Of course, this doesn’t mean your dog needs to be starving! You simply need to plan the training sessions around meal times in the most effective way.

How To Begin Recall Training

When you begin training your dog to come back to you on command, it’s best to start indoors – where there are fewer distractions. Once you’re ready to train your dog, you can follow these steps to learn a rough idea of the process you’ll need to follow:

  • First, stand a short distance away from your dog, preferably in a quiet room where they’ll be fewer distractions (A hallway or large room is a good place to first try this).
  • With a food reward in your hand, call your dog’s name, and when they start to move toward you, give the command ‘come’, so they learn to associate the word with the action they’re taking.
  • As your dog comes over to you, praise them in an enthusiastic voice. You can encourage them even more by bending your knees and opening your arms towards them in a welcoming way (which is also a good gesture for them to learn, as you can use this to make them come to you in busier environments where your dog may not be able to hear you as clearly).
  • When your dog arrives, kneel down to get closer to their level. Praise your dog again with enthusiastic words and encouragement. You can also stroke them and give a food reward to further reinforce the positive behavior.

Teaching Your Dog To Come When You’re Outdoors

After you have trained your dog to ‘come’ when you’re indoors, it’s time to try the same lesson outdoors. Keep in mind that this will be slightly more challenging as there are more distractions outside, so you’ll need to be patient if they aren’t being highly responsive just yet.

However, it is important to master the “indoors” lessons first, because you don’t want to begin with outdoors training – which is likely to be harder.

To start with, it’s wise to keep your dog on an extendable leash for now (especially if your dog has a history of not coming when called outside).

Essentially, you follow the same basic principles as the indoors recall training, but if your dog isn’t responding to you, a quick, gentle jerk on the leash is usually enough to attract their attention if they’re easily distracted.

Keeping Your Dog’s Attention Is Vital

Dogs (especially puppies) have fairly short attention spans, which means training can be mentally exhausting for them. So you should only attempt this type of training for 5 to 15 minutes at any one time, and never train when you or your dog is tired.

You should also try to plan all training sessions to take place before the dog has any active exercise (such as a dog walk), so they’re physically and mentally prepared for the training session.

Making Your Dog To Respond To Rewards

It’s always smart to use your dog’s favorite food rewards to tempt them to come, although sometimes a favorite toy might work better because it’ll be more visible from a distance. But it’s worth trying both to see which your dog responds better to.

If your dog doesn’t seem to be responding very well to a food reward, you should consider changing the meal-time routine.

Try giving fewer meals but in larger quantities, so there are periods of time where your dog is a little more hungry, and, therefore, more responsive to food treats.

If your dog still doesn’t respond well to food rewards, try using a favorite squeaky toy as a reward instead. If your dog is strong-willed or particularly stubborn, always carry out recall training on a leash until their behavior is more predictable.

Never Use The Command To Discipline

If you feel the need to discipline your dog, you should never use the ‘come’ command to bring them to you first.

You may have already guessed why, but the reason is that your dog will quickly learn to associate the command with an unpleasant experience – and this will make them far less excited about coming to you in the future.

If you have a history of calling your dog only to tell them off, then it only makes sense that they will be reluctant to come when you call.