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Training your dog to come to you when called

29/08/2018 - Latest News

Have you ever witnessed a poor soul chasing a runaway dog across the park hoping to stop it getting onto the road? Don’t let that poor soul be you. In this blog we’re looking at recall training and breaking it down into stages so that you can always trust your dog to come to you when he’s called.

Why does my dog not come back when called?

In my long experience working with dogs, I’ve learned that there are 4 main causes for poor recall.

  1. The dog has never been trained to come back when called
  2. There has been some recall training but the method didn’t suit the dog’s temperament and so his response is not reliable
  3. The dog is understimulated in everyday life. So when given the chance, he can’t control the impulse to stop what he’s doing and come back to you.
  4. Fear. If a dog is very afraid he will tuck his tail in and just run.

If fear is the reason for your dog’s poor recall, then it’s vital that you talk to a dog behavioural specialist. Your dog needs help with his confidence. Without specialist help, he could get himself (and you) into a heartbreakingly difficult situation.
Contact Premier Dog Training Romford for help with behavioural problems

How to train your dog to come to you when called
You might have seen my recent video blog featuring the loveable Elmo. Here it is again in case you missed it.
Elmo is the happiest chappy you could ever hope to meet, but he is easily distracted and didn’t always come back when he was called. His owners asked me to help because they didn’t want him to get into trouble over it. Using reward based training techniques, this little fellow didn’t take long to learn how to listen.

As you can see, Elmo is not a baby puppy. Which just goes to show it’s never too late to improve your dog’s recall skills. It doesn’t matter whether you are training a very young dog, have adopted a rescue dog or if your family pet has been with you for years but never quite got the hang of it. You can work together to make life better.

The ultimate goal for recall training is to have your dog spin on his heels and return to you whenever he sees or hears the recall cue. It shouldn’t matter if he’s on a mission to meet a dog he’s seen on the horizon, following a very interesting scent or chasing his ball. The perfect recall is like a reflex action, it is immune to distractions. 

Here are 3 basic exercises that make recall training simple

1. The hand touch

This is an exercise to do at home or in dog training classes. It’s teaching a hand signal at the same time as encouraging your dog to come close to you.

Bring yourself down to dog level – you might want to sit or kneel on the floor. Have your dog near to you and have a treat, a toy or a clicker in one hand. With one nice big enthusiastic gesture, hold one hand (not the one with the treat) out to one side. Your dog will be curious and as soon as he touches your open hand with his nose, reward him with a word (good!) or a click and hand him a treat.
Repeat the exercise several times in each training session. Eventually it will become like a reflex to the dog. Now you can start increasing the distance between you and the dog. He sees the hand movement as a signal or a cue that going over to you and touching your hand results in good things.

2. Response to name

In this exercise, we’re not asking your dog to come to you. Just to give you his attention when he hears his name called.

Start with your dog close to you, but not necessarily focussing on you.  Call his name. If he responds in any way. Reward him with a word (good!) or a click and hand him a treat.
It’s a very easy exercise and you might think it’s too simple. But if you repeat it several times a day – every day – a neurological pathway will be created in your dog’s brain. In time he will stop and look at you no matter where he is or what he’s doing.

It’s very much the same reaction as you would give if you heard somebody call your name while you were walking down Romford High Street. You’d stop, look and then decide what to do next.

3. Voice command

The third exercise is to help your dog understand the cue to come back to you. So choose a command word that you will use consistently. I use the word “come”.
Have your dog a couple of steps away from you. Call his name. When he gives you that reflex response to his name, say “come” and hold your hand out for a nose-touch. When he does it – reward him generously. He needs to learn that coming to you when called is more rewarding than anything else he could possibly be doing at that time.

Again, as you both build confidence you can introduce greater distances and more distractions. Move your training session from the house to the garden for example. Or try training while there are visitors in the house. If you are not in an enclosed space, for safety I thoroughly recommend having your dog wear a harness with a long lead attached so that you can quickly gain control if you need to.

Perfecting your dog’s recall training
Ultimately, you want your dog to stop what he’s doing and come back to you whenever he hears the recall command. To achieve that, you need to practise in safe, controlled conditions with plenty of distractions and some like-minded people. Where could be better than a dog training class?

Premier Dog Training have classes tailored to every stage of a dogs’ life (puppy, adolescent or adult). Your pet will be working alongside other dogs (aka distractions). Classes are kept small so that everyone’s training needs can be met. And if you are one of the many people who prefer to walk their dog off-lead because he pulls like a train – we can sort out his loose-lead walking too!
Find out about puppy classes https://www.premierdogtraining.co.uk/puppies/

More information about Junior and Adult dog training classes  https://www.premierdogtraining.co.uk/group-classes-romford/