Getting your dog to come when call is more important than just being able to scold her when she has done something wrong. In the event of an emergency every second counts and you want your dog to come when called, right away. “When Maui gets out of the house, off lease, she thinks it’s an opportunity to play chance. She will keep running from me if I go after her,” says Arlene Patrick of Corona. “When we lived in our first apartment she got out and I had to chase her all the way down to the shopping center. I was so angry and scared at the same time, I didn’t know how to react when I finally got a hold of her.”
You are on a walk and your dog comes out of her collar to go chase a squirrel; or your dog ran out the front door and right into traffic on a busy street. There are hundreds of scenarios where your dog’s safety is at risk and coming when called can make the difference between life and death (and your sanity).
Correcting these bad habits takes time but believe me, the time is always worth it. Set aside a time to practice learning (or re-learning) commands like “Stay”. Keep the sessions short (10-15 mins.) and make it a positive experience (happy tones and rewards). Rewards can consist of treats, toys, praise, or even a game. Whatever motivates your pup to work and keep working is a good tool. If you are using treats as a reward, be inconsistent with the rewards and don’t give a treat for every correct action. Using an irregular reward disbursement schedule will force your dog to pay attention instead of anticipating your next move. And lastly, remember that all dogs learn at a different pace. Have patience and don’t give up. No dog is too old to learn new tricks.
Learning (or re-learning) Come
These steps will help reinforce the “stay” command while teaching your pup the new “come” command.
- Tell your dog to “sit” (and/or lay “down”) and then “stay”.
- Take 2 – 5 steps back then say your dog’s name and “come” – or whatever command you choose (example: “Sweet pea, come”).
- When she comes to you, reward her immediately and praise her with “good come”. (Replace “come” with whatever command you choose, but be consistent or you will confuse your dog.)
- Repeat steps 1 – 2 several times, taking 2 – 5 more steps back each time.
- If you so choose, you can train your dog to sit each time she comes and to stay seated until you give her a release command (such as “release”, “go play”, or “carry on”).
Mastering the Command:
Once your pup has the “come” command down, switch things up by:
- Hiding around the house and calling her to “come” find you.
- Interrupting her play (especially at the dog park) with periodic “come” commands.
- Using an extra-long leash on your next walk or trip out in public. Let her wander off in front of you and call her to “come” back.
Remember to reward immediately with praise when she does come. Positive reinforcement will create a more reliable recall. Happy Training!