Train your dog to come every time you call, without fail.
It’s great to let your dog off the leash and let them run free and play, but you need to know they will come when you call – every time. Not just when they feel like it, but EVERY time. It’s actually easy to do, but you have to approach it the smart way. Let’s start with the most important thing.
Food is Gold
You must use food for this training, and here’s why. Food is like gold for a dog. Food is clearly the most motivating tool we can use, so you need to use it and use it wisely.
Your dog will keep coming back for the gold. Just like a prospector who finds gold at a certain bend in a river, he’ll keep coming back for more.
Have you ever fed your dog a food scrap from the table while you’re eating? Does your dog now constantly beg at the table every single meal time? That’s the power of food. Even if you only once fed your dog from the table, they will keep coming back for more.
So never, ever, feed your dog from the table.
But that begging at the table behavior provides an interesting insight – when you train your dog to come you don’t need to give our dog food every time! Like a prospector who returns to the same spot even though he hasn’t found gold there for a while. He’ll still come just because there is a chance!
Start Generous, Become Frugal
Early in your training, use food every time to reward your dog when they come. Over time, gradually reduce the frequency of a food reward. Even when your dog is perfectly trained, you should still randomly reward them with a food treat. Whether you give them food or not, always give them praise when they come.
Use the Right Treats
Because you are providing regular food treats early in the training, make sure they are healthy treats. Refer to our article here: Dog Treats
Dog Treats – Yum Yum!
To keep your dog on the right track with ongoing training make sure you’ve always got some treats on hand!
Don’t Train on a Full Belly
You want the maximum ‘gold value’ for every food treat you provide, so don’t start a training session straight after your dog has wolfed down a bowl of food. A little bit of hunger can go a long way.
Use a Consistent Call
Another way to be smart with your training is to always use the same sound when you call. Don’t make it harder for your dog than you need to. You want a call that your dog will always recognize. Your dog will start to associate that call with the golden reward of a food treat, so he’ll be keen to race over to you. Don’t confuse things by having 5 different ways you call your dog. One good way to create a consistent sound is with a dog whistle.
Also, try to have a bit of ‘up energy’ in your call because we’re looking for instant action at speed. Your dog will pick up on your energy and respond.
Train Your Dog to Come When You Call
OK. You have a pocket full of treats and a nice clear energetic call ready to go. Let’s train your dog to come. There are still a few ways to be smart in how you go about it.
Before you let your dog loose in a park, start the training in a smaller space like a back yard. When your dog is coming on command every time at home, you are ready for the much more interesting and distracting world outside the gate.
Stack the Odds
Your aim in this training is to have your dog come and to be rewarded, so every success is a step in the right direction. Pick your timing so you have success more often!
· Make sure your dog has had enough sleep.
· Make sure they are just a little bit hungry.
· Use that consistent call so they form an association with that particular sound and energy.
· Wait until they are already moving toward you when you call them.
· Don’t make training the first thing you do when you let them into a space.
These tips will give you more success more often, which lets you reward more often, which will breed more success! Before you know it, your dog will be racing to your side every time you call.
The last tip, to not make training the first thing you do, is especially important when you let them off lead in a park or other open space. Give them time to burn off a little steam and poke their nose into a few places before you test the strength of your command.
When Out in the Open, Take a Long Line
You’re ready to play some old school games with your dog, but the first time you let your dog loose in a park or on the beach or somewhere without a fence, you will be a bit nervous. You need a little insurance, and that’s where a long line comes in.
This is a lightweight rope that you clip to your dog and allow to trail behind them as they run around. It’s your emergency method of catching them, especially if they are not wanting to be caught. The length you need depends on the speed of your dog, up to 25 yards if you have a sprinter.
We recommend you attach it to a harness not a collar, so there’s no risk of injuring your dog’s neck if you accidentally pull them up too quickly. For more information on harnesses, click here: Dog Harness
You will only need the long line in very early stages while you work out if you have a ‘runner’. Once your training takes hold, you can put the long line away.
That’s All You Need To Know
That’s it! Having your dog come to you every time is just a matter of applying the above knowledge repeatedly until the mental associations are firmly made between your call and the chance of a food reward. Over time your dog will just instinctively react and come to your command, with or without food. It’s that easy.
If you are using the method above train your dog to come, but struggling to have your dog pay attention to you, you have a relationship disorder. It’s likely your dog doesn’t see you as their pack leader so they don’t put much stock in anything you say or do. Get some help from Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer to put that relationship right the calm and gentle way.