Everyone wants their dog to come when called, right? So why is it that so many dogs avoid their owners when they are called? Here are some common mistakes that are made when teaching a dog to come when called.
1. Chase your dog!
Most dogs find the chase me game to be a lot of fun! If we play this fun game in the backyard, it is great. But if the dog gets loose in the front yard then our body language quickly looks like this game. Instead of chasing your dog, practice having your dog chase you to the kitchen to get a treat! Quickly give the dog a treat when you arrive together at the cookie jar. That will teach the dog that even when you don’t have treats on you, you can reward the dog for desirable decisions.
In an emergency, do what you need to do to get your dog. In daily life, practice having your dog come when called and practice approaching your dog and giving the dog a reward when you catch the dog.
2. When the dog finally comes to you, reprimand the dog for not coming the first time.
The dog doesn’t understand that he is being reprimanded for what happened a few minutes ago. In the dog’s eyes, he came when called and was reprimanded. It is likely that the dog will avoid you even more the next time that you call. Instead practice lots of recalls with no distractions and after lots of successful repetitions, practice with controllable distractions. You can have another family member pet the dog and practice taking turns calling the dog to you after being petted by the other person.
3. Associate come when called with things that your dog doesn’t enjoy (baths, nail trims, etc.).
Instead of calling your dog when it is time for unpleasant things, grab some treats, approach your dog and give the dog the treats, then lead the dog to where you want the dog to go. If you need the dog to go in their crate, you can just toss some treats in the crate. We don’t want the dog to think that coming when called is like playing the lottery for a really bad prize such as ear cleaning or any other not so pleasant but necessary task. For a truly reliable come when called behavior, the dog needs to think that great things are likely to happen.
4. Associate come when called with taking away a newly discovered prized possession.
Dogs love new and novel things. When the dog finds something new to chew on such as a shoe or a sock or a stick instead of calling the dog to you to take away the prized item, grab a treat and trade the dog for the item. Your dog will learn that sharing his possessions is a great idea and with repetition, the dog will learn that bringing items to you is a great thing to do.
And the most common way to ruin the come command is…..
5. The fun ends when the dog is called to come to you.
If you dog is having fun running around in the yard and the only time you call them is when it is time to go inside, why would the dog want to come when called? Instead of calling your dog and the outdoor play always ending, vary it. Call your dog, reward them with a game of chase me or a treat. Then send the dog to go play again. Then when you call your dog and the fun ends, it isn’t a big deal.
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