How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called Reliably

How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called Reliably

Hello, Mighty Paw fam. 

Today we’re working on training our dogs to come when called more reliably. The goal is to get our dogs to listen 99% of the time, even with distractions!

This info will be helpful for people with a new puppy all the way to dogs with advanced training.

The key is to build your dog or puppy’s skills very slowly. Don’t push the limit too much.

Dog training takes a lot of time and patience.

Use this info if you’d like to work on your own dog’s skills or forward it to someone who could use the help.

For working on coming when called, a long dog leash or a check cord is helpful.

How to get your dog to come when called (reliably)

We won’t spend too much time on the basics. Just have a toy or high-valued treats ready. Call your dog: “Barley! Come!” and praise him when he moves towards you. Give the treat or play for a few seconds. “Good boy!”

Do this in the house or other “boring” area where you are the most interesting thing! Your dog is almost guaranteed to come bounding your way! “Yay! What a good boy!”

Short training sessions

Practice calling your dog just 3-4 times per session so he doesn’t get bored. Training should be fun for your dog! Quit while you’re ahead and before he has a chance to ignore you. (Remember, short attention spans!)

What if your dog ignores you?

When a dog doesn’t “listen” when you call him, it’s probably because he:

  • truly doesn’t understand what you’re asking
  • thinks it’s not worth the effort!
  • is distracted

If you call your dog and he doesn’t respond, you should:

  • use a better reward! (extra smelly treats, tempting squeaker toy)
  • decrease distractions - work somewhere super boring for now

3 tips for more advanced recall training

1. Randomly call your dog 10 times throughout each day.

Coming when called takes a lot of practice, and … most of us don’t practice this enough! We only call our dogs when we want them to stop doing something (like to stop playing at the park) or when we want to do something negative like put them in their crate or trim their nails (yikes). This encourages our dogs to ignore us.

Randomly calling your dog 10 times a day will make coming when called fun and interesting for your dog! It’s even easier if you have your 10+ treats all ready to go each day in your treat bag or other container.

2. Create games.

Use a long dog leash and have your dog run back and forth between you and a family member outside. (Remember to stop before your dog gets bored - only work for a minute or two.)

If you’re alone with your dog, you can toss a treat away from you (like dry dog food), then call your dog back to you and reward with a higher-valued treat (like jerky).

Other ideas: get your dog to chase you, play hide and seek, use fetch to your advantage if your dog is a good retriever.

3. Formal training on your long leash.

We find that most dogs really enjoy working for the sake of working. Dogs don’t necessarily need to be “amped up” all the time with games and excitement. There are huge benefits to working in a calm state of mind.

For this reason, we believe it’s important to train for at least a few minutes a week by putting your dog in a sit/stay, walking away and then calling your dog.

Using at least a 6-foot leash is important but a long training leash is helpful as you and your dog build more distance.

Another option is a 30-ft check cord, which is a long, lightweight leash without a handle. That way it won't catch on brush or rocks as you give your dog more freedom.

There is something special about being able to put your dog in a “stay” walk 20 or 30 or even 50 feet away, pause, and then call your dog to have him trot to you and sit in front of you. We believe this is an important skill for all dogs to learn and it really boosts their confidence as well as your bond.

The most important takeaway is to very, very slowly work on distance over several weeks. Do not push the limits too quickly.

Good luck with your training!

- The Mighty Paw Team


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  • Pam J Wessling

    Feb 22, 2021

    Pam J Wessling

    I was finally able to get our dachshund to learn how to use the potty bell 2.0 . Initially, when she used her nose it was so gentle it didn’t make a sound. When I tried to teach her before she just didn’t understand what I wanted and she would touch my hand to get a treat or touch the bell with her nose. This went on for weeks. It was serendipity today, that while watching me ring the bell with my hand, she tried once with her paw and did it! I made it like winning the jack pot in Vegas – I made a big deal and gave her several of her favorite salmon treats. Then it took me a while (more than 10 minutes) to get her to do it again – but finally I was able to get her to do it more and more with her paw. Then I took her to the door and showed her that the door would open and we’d go outside if she rang the bell – I repeated this many times. Hopefully this is the break through!

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