How Can I Get My Dog to Come When Called?

Make Returning Into a Game

To help speed up your dog's return time, you can turn coming when called into a game of chase, which employs a dog’s natural instinct to run after a moving animal. This works best with nonaggressive dogs, particularly if you're going to have a child playing along. Call your dog’s name while he is out in front of you and then start running or speed walking in the opposite direction. Most dogs will naturally chase after you, but some dogs may need to be enticed with a toy. As soon as your dog gets to your side, stop running and reward him with a treat. If your dog is especially toy motivated, throw a ball or let him chase a stuffed toy on the end of a rope. Then walk forward and wait until his attention is focused away from you; call his name and run or fast walk away from him again. After a few repetitions, your dog should realize that you may disappear if he doesn’t return fast enough and should start to snap his head back at the sound of your call and immediately race back toward you.

Hide-and-seek in the house and yard is another fun game that helps build your dog’s excitement for coming when called and is one that the entire family can play. If you are playing by yourself, ask your dog to stay; go into another room and call him to you. If you are playing with multiple people, have one person hold the dog while another person hides and then calls him. Once your dog finds that person, someone else can hide, and so on. The dog should be rewarded randomly with treats, toys, praise or even a bowl of kibble when he finds the hidden person. Hiding places should be kept simple at first (standing in the middle of an open room, for example) but can be made more difficult over time, such as hiding behind doors or in the bathroom with the door open.

By adding excitement and fun to the come when called command, you can make it more likely that you will get a reliable and speedy return every time you call your dog.

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