How To Teach Your Dog To Come

It’s one of the most important cues❗

One of the most important cues you can teach your pup is to come when you call her name.

But how can you get her to do that even when she’s distracted by all the awesome smells around her?

The Dodo spoke with Clare Grierson, a dog trainer, behaviorist and founder of Muddy Mutleys in London, to find out the best way to teach your dog to come.

Why teaching your dog to come when called is important

Teaching your dog to come is another way of teaching her recall — meaning that when she’s away from you (for example, on the other side of the dog park), she’ll make a beeline for you once you say the cue to call her over.

Recall is important not just for when you’re inside your home and want her to come eat her breakfast, but it can also help you get your pup out of a potentially dangerous situation — like in the event that she does bolt after that squirrel.

What you’ll need to teach your dog recall

Before starting to teach your dog to come, consider adding these supplies to your arsenal:

A clicker

Clicker training ​​allows you to precisely mark the exact behavior you’re trying to get your dog to do. When teaching your dog any basic cue, it’s always a good idea to have a clicker.

Try these Pet Training Clickers from Amazon for $5.99

High-value treats

You’ll want some of your pup’s favorite treats to help enforce the cue.

Like these Crazy Dog Train-Me! dog treats from Amazon for $3.99

Steps to train your dog to come when called

Here’s how to teach your dog to come, according to Grierson.

  1. Say your dog’s name once, and give her a reward in order to build the association between her name and the treats coming from you.
  2. Also say her name whenever she comes over to you voluntarily, then click or give her a treat.
  3. Once your dog knows she gets a treat after coming to you when her name’s called, you’ll want to slowly build up distance away from your dog. Call her only once (making sure that her nose isn’t down when you do so, because she just isn’t paying attention at that moment), and mark and reward her when she catches up with you. Repeat while increasing the distance each time.

Additional tips for training your dog:

Here are some additional tips to make every training session a good one:

  • Exercise your pup before training to ensure he’s calm (he learns better this way!).
  • Always keep training light and fun (no stress = better results).
  • Keep training sessions short (two to five minutes is ideal).
  • Always have some treats with you (just in case he does something good).
  • Vary how many treats you give (to keep him guessing).
  • Teach the handle signals before the verbal cue (dogs learn best through body language).
  • Say the verbal cue one time only (so that he knows it’s important).
  • Practice in different environments (so your dog can learn how to do the trick anywhere).
  • Eventually wean your dog off of treats (and he’ll eventually respond to the cue without them).

While teaching your dog cues can be a fun bonding experience, just remember to be patient — and give your pup plenty of breaks if you start to notice her getting restless.

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