Teach Your Dog To Come When Called- what not to do

    Every dog needs to know to come to his owner when called. It’s a skill, known in the dog training world as a recall, that is seldom really taught. Most owners just assume dogs will do it, and many do!! But, failure to properly train a recall results in failure of the dog to perform it in many cases. To start with, as previously stated, most dog owners never really work at this skill. I train my dogs from early on in baby steps that coming to me is ALWAYS a good thing. Owners should never call a dog to them for something the dog doesn’t like such as a bath, a pill, whatever. At those times, the owner should simply go and gently get the dog, grasp the collar, give a treat and hook the leash on to perform whatever unpleasant task is at hand. If your dog is out in the yard having a good time playing. don’t just call him in to end the play session. Dogs learn quickly that to come to you means the fun is over. It is much better to call the dog frequently, praise, and sometimes treat him for coming to you and allowing you to grasp the collar and then let him go back to play. Remember, you want him to love to come to you! Avoid using a loud intimidating voice when calling your dog. I certainly would dread going to someone that was calling me with a stern, loud voice. It’s scary. Use a happy high pitched voice like it’s a game…which it should be! Don’t change the command  that you have used to train your dog. “Come” is not the same as “come here” or any other word. It really doesn’t matter what word you choose, but use that same word consistently. Don’t expect your dog to understand what you want in any circumstance. Dogs do not generalize well. If he does a great recall in the back yard, you cannot expect the same in the front yard. It needs to be trained! I see owners get very frustrated over this. We learn differently than dogs. When teaching a dog, they must be taught in various places and circumstances. Last, do NOT give your dog the opportunity to practice undesirable behavior. Practice makes perfect, and if he practices a poor or no recall, then he will just get better at it. Always take your dog out on a leash or a long line until his recall is solid. If you cheat, it your failure and not the dog's. The next installment of this blog will tell you what you need to do to train the recall.   photo at top by RoxAnne Franklin