Why Won’t My Dog Come?!

Unfortunately for us dog owners, coming when called is one of those behaviors that is easy to screw up.  We don’t mean to, but we do a better job of teaching our dogs to ignore us or run away than we do in training them to come!  This post is here to help you STOP the INSANITY. Especially if you have a new pup or a newly adopted young dog, following these rules can make all the difference between a dog that comes to you versus a dog that runs from you. 

Here are your indispensable, comprehensible, well-intentional…

6 Rules for Recalls

“You called? I’m back!”

1. Never call your dog to come and then have it result in something she won’t like.  (E.g., bath, nail clipping, crate time, etc.)

2. If you must expose your dog to something she won’t like – do NOT use any kind of recall cue before the unwanted event.  Just go get her instead.  Or do something fun in between!

3. During the early training phase when you are still teaching a recall, do NOT use your recall cue word UNLESS you are prepared to reward generously.

4. Do NOT use your recall word in situations where you know your dog will fail.  In other words, don’t start practicing this while your dog is in the middle of a euphoric chase with another dog or a squirrel.  You need to gradually work your way up to that level of distraction.  (If your dog hears the cue word over and over, all the while ignoring it,you will systematically desensitize her to the very word you are working hard to train.)

5. Use a SLACK long line at first when training so that if your dog ignores you, she CANNOT learn that ignoring you is more fun than listening to you.  (Example: You call your dog.  Your dog ignores you and chases a squirrel instead.  Outcome of ignoring is rewarding to her.  That’s not good for training.)

6. Reward all recalls with FUN. This could be rubs, toys, play, chase, treats, walks, more freedom, etc – be creative!  This is especially important in early training.  Once your dog KNOWS that recalls are wonderful, the association with them will be so positive that running to you on cue will be one of her absolute favorite things to do.

Have fun training!

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