How to Teach a Dog to Come
When it comes to training a dog to come (the recall command), I like to teach two recalls. If you just teach one come command you are likely to end up with a dog that doesn’t come when called very well. Here is why:
Most client’s I’ve had naturally tell their dog ‘come’, ‘come-on’, ‘come here’ and other such similar commands. It’s just natural.
The problem is, though, that you tell your dog to ‘come’ 50 times a day or so.
That, in and of itself, isn’t the problem. The problem comes in, however, when your dog starts to get lax about coming when called. Anything that you tell your dog 50 times a day IS GOING to lose some of it’s urgency. It’s not going to keep that level of urgency that you want. It just won’t.
That’s why I teach two recall commands.
Come vs Here
One command I call the ‘casual recall’. That is the command I give around the house or the yard. I’m not too strict about my wording. It may be ‘come’ right now and ‘come on’ a few minutes from now. I say this command many times throughout the day.
There are other times, however, when there is more urgency. Maybe someone just knocked on the door and I need the dog to come right away. Maybe there is a cat, bicycle, kid, or other distraction and I need the dog to stop chasing and come back immediately. Maybe I’m gardening outside, hiking in the hills, camping in the mountains or otherwise in an area where there are heavy distractions.
Those are times when I need what I call a ‘formal recall’. With the formal recall I like to stick to one single word. I use the word ‘here’ because it makes sense but doesn’t get overused like ‘come’ does.
During training I also treat things differently. When I train the ‘come’ command it’s all fun and games. I’ll give rewards, praise, and make it fun. This is great but the problem is that this recall will never be perfect. When you only use motivation you never teach the dog that the recall is mandatory. That is where the formal recall comes in.
When it comes to the ‘here’ command I also use lots of fun and motivation. I balance that, though, with corrections if the dog doesn’t come. This may be using a long line in training, using an electric dog training collar or other such implement.
Work hard on both recalls and you’ll soon have a dog that comes when called whenever you need it.