Have you ever been on a walk with your puppy and come across other dog owners who seem to have complete control over their dogs?
They call their dog and the dog obediently comes running back from whatever s/he was doing without hesitation.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that training a puppy to come when called is actually easier than most people think. And who doesn’t want a well-trained puppy?
And is the case with training a dog to do anything, it’s easier to train a young puppy before the bad habits are adopted by the puppy and accepted by you.
Now I’ve talked a lot about this in previous articles, but the first step in teaching a puppy to do anything starts by establishing yourself as the Pack Leader. It’s no different teaching a puppy to come when called.
Your puppy will respect and obey you, once they know and understand who is the boss. They will then usually do everything they can to please you – the pack leader.
Choosing the Best Communication Method
I mentioned above that the best time to teach a dog to come every time is when they are a puppy. Therefore, you should start training your puppy within days of coming home.
It is never too early to start training your puppy.
Choose a verbal command, such as “come” or “here” or both together, which many people find more natural, “come here” along with a chosen hand signal to communicate that you want your puppy to come to you.
Some dog trainers suggest that single word commands are best, and mostly I agree, and in general most dogs will come on hearing their name called out.
However, from personal experience, I know that when I have called my dogs back using their name, which is usually enough, and they don’t, by nature I call out “Come here.”
So for me, it was only natural to train my dogs with Come here.
My neighbor only ever calls his dog by name, that’s enough. Even in the heat of the moment, his dog will leave any situation and come when called by name.
Pick a Reward to Offer Your Pup
In general, all puppies love affection and crave their owners’ (pack leaders’) approval. And will obediently return to an owner that lavishes them in praise is reward enough for a young puppy.
To reinforce to your puppy that coming when called is a REALLY great idea, pick a reward. This can be a favorite toy or small food treat.
Stuck on What to Give Your Dog as a Treat?
The ideal treat for training is something that is healthy and easily transportable.
For a powerful source of nutrients, iron, b12, and folate considering whipping up homemade liver treat for your pet.
Blended liver, spread thinly across a silicone tray and left in a warming drawer for 2-3 hours is the perfect treat.
You might want to check out this article, Homemade Dog Treats are Cost-Effective for two more simple to make dog treat recipes.
Training Your Puppy To Come When Called
Okay, we are nearly there. We have established ourselves as the pack leader, decided the command word(s) and have doggy treats on hand – or in the pocket.
The next step is to get practicing, and train a puppy to come when called!
To minimize the risk of failure, fatigue, and frustration – for you and your puppy – choose a spot inside the house with limited distractions such as toys, noise or other people.
- Stand a couple of meters away from your puppy
- Say their name to get their attention
- Use the chosen command and hand gesture
- If your puppy trots over to you lavish them with praise and offer them their treat
- Reward your puppy within 3 seconds of them coming to you, to ensure they connect the action with the reward
- If your puppy does not come, do not punish them, but continue to repeat at intervals.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
The key to being able to train a puppy to come when called?
Continue this activity, slowly increase the distance between you and your puppy. When your puppy masters this command move to different environments throughout your house.
Once you are confident your puppy is doing well, begin this training outdoors in a fully fenced yard.
Remember that less is more, and keep your training sessions short. I am fortunate to work from home, so I am around the house most of the day. This enabled me to train my dogs throughout the day.
Whenever I needed to move about the house I’d call my puppy and if they came I’d reward them straight away and keep on walking. If they didn’t I’d try again until they did.
I Do Have a Confession to Make
Okay, I need to be honest and confess about how that actually worked out the first time I tried it.
Using the method above, calling out to my puppy each time I moved from my office to another part of the house or vise-versa, only taught my her that every time I moved about the house she’d get a treat!
Needless to say that it took a lot more training for her to learn that wasn’t what I wanted, and to also know when to come when I called her to come.
So please don’t fall for the same mistake. Mix it up a bit and don’t get predictable on when you are going to call your dog to come back to you.
One-off sessions like this can work really well and has the advantage that your puppy can’t second guess when you are going to call them.
Train a Puppy to Come… Even in the Big Outdoors!
The real test of how good you have been training your dog to come is when you get away from the confines of your house and garden.
Many owners will go through all this training, get their dog to the dog park…only to find all their hard work is for nothing!
A common mistake that owners make is to call the dog to them and then leave the area. This teaches your puppy that coming back means leaving the fun!
To counteract this, make sure to call your dog back often while at the dog park or beach for pats, attention, and treats.
Teach a Puppy to Come When Called to Set Them Up for Success
If you train a puppy to come when called you open up so many doors for adventure and fun! Your puppy will have the ability to enjoy all of life’s adventures with you, without stress.
That’s it. You now know how to train your puppy to come back to you on command.
Knowing that your dog will come to you every time they are called should give you confidence that you can go virtually anywhere with your dog.
I know that I take great comfort in knowing that any time I call my dogs that they will come back to me immediately, no matter what they are up to.
How to Train an Older Dog to Come on Command
The way to teach an older dog to come well called is the same as training a puppy. The only exception is more patience. An older dog, settled in their way of doing things, can be trained to do anything. Despite that old saying:
‘You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks’
Start with enforcing that you are the pack leader. This strategy applies to stray or rescue dogs that you may have adopted. They won’t be familiar with you being the boss, so start there.
One Last Piece of Advice on How to Train a Dog
My final piece of advice is to never raise your voice when training your puppy to come or any other behavior for that matter. Try to maintain a consistent voice level.
A raised voice is often associated with anger – your dog will think they have done something wrong – and will usually hesitate to return to you.
If you find yourself in a situation whereby your dog is in danger, you will naturally call out with emotion/panic in your voice. There’s not much you can do about that.
Your dog will pick up the emotion/panic in your voice and in most cases instinctively come back to protect you – in most cases!
Good luck and please let me know how you get on training your dog to come when called.