The beauty of having a well-behaved dog is that you can bring them with you wherever you go.  Having a dog that comes when called is a gift, and so incredibly important when hiking, adventuring or doing anything.  Knowing that your dog will listen and return to your side is a major win … but puppies aren’t born knowing this, so it’s something we have to teach them.

A dog who has been trained early to ‘come’ when called will not run away, because they will know you are their people and being with you is where they want to be!

Don’t get me wrong, they will explore and run and play and sniff. They might take their time to saunter back if they are testing their independence. They will never really stray too far though, because you are their home base.

The great news is that it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to work on the “come” command too much or too often, just as it’s equally impossible to say your dog’s name with praise too many times. It never gets old. And all it can do is reinforce the important connection the two of you are forming.

How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called:

Spend 5-10 minutes every night outside with your dog before dinner. Keep them on a long leash that will let them leave your side and explore away from you. Just walk around the yard and when they don’t expect it, crouch down and call their name with a yummy treat in hand. If they don’t come right away, stand up (they missed their chance). Continue to walk around and then repeat – crouch down, call their name in a really sweet voice and have a treat in your hand. If they are successful, reward with the treat, a happy snuggle and praise with reassuring words. Continue walking and repeat. As your dog gets better and more reliable, you can make the leash longer… or even try off leash!  The goal is to set the dog up for success so they truly understand what we are asking of them when we call their name or say “come.”

TIP: Consistency is key. If the whole family takes part in this nightly ritual and the treats and rewards feel (and taste) really good when your dog obeys … this will become their FAVORITE part of the day!

The whole family will gain confidence in communicating with your dog and everyone will learn how to call the dog so that it listens (and no one will have to chase anyone)! As an added bonus, your  dog will definitely learn its name!

Remove Distractions:

Practice when it’s not urgent. Reinforce good behavior when there are no distractions. Cement the language and action so that you can get your dog’s attention when you truly need them to come. Once your dog has become a master, you can slowly introduce some distractions (noise, activity, non-family, new locations etc.)

How Long Should You Practice?

5-10 minutes every day of consistent and joyful practice will make a massive impact on your ability to give your dog a lifetime of outings, adventure and new experiences. 

When Do You Practice?

You can practice this routine as often as you want, but the daily ritual of practicing before mealtime (in the first year) will become a reliable habit. Dogs are extra receptive when they are hungry so the timing is perfect. Plus, your dog will love being the centre of attention.  Eventually, the practice can become part of your daily walks and routines… 

SUCCESS STORY:

To see the ‘come’ command in action and what is possible after only one week of training, click here. To see the real-life dog kisses you could be receiving when your dog learns how to ‘come’ when called check out this video on my Instagram!

Ready for the 7-Day Challenge? 

When you think your dog is catching onto the whole ‘come’ routine, try using your dog’s name 3x/day for the next 7 days. Have treats ready! When your dog comes running to the sound of their name, praise them joyfully, give treats and plenty of affection. This is great practice for dogs of ANY age, not just puppies! 

Bonus points: take a video of you practicing, post on social media and tag @myloyalhound. I will repost!! I can’t wait to see your dogs running to greet you with ears bouncing, tails flopping and tongues ready!

If you’re looking for more helpful articles on dog training, please read: 6 Ways to Connect & Bond with Your Dog.