There is no other cue more important to dog owners than this one. Any dog owner would love to have a dog that leaves everything it is doing and comes back running to the owner when it is called. Teaching this, however, takes time and patience. Don’t expect your dog to come running to you while it is in the middle of dog play. Hiring a dog trainer can be of great help when teaching this cue. (Check our trainers’ index to find a trainer near you)
- Prepare in advance a clicker and some highly reinforcing treats.
For this cue, use different treats than your usual ones. Use some cat food or various types of real meats.
- In general, always reinforce your dog when it is coming to you. Never, but NEVER punish your dog for coming to you. Even if the dog ran away for an hour – when it finally comes back – reward it, don’t punish it.
- It is recommended to start teaching this cue after the dog knows his/her name. (read the article about teaching the name)
- Start working on this cue at home where you are the most interesting thing anyway.
- When your dog is not too busy with something else, call him to you. Say his name followed by “come”. Get on your knees and motivate the dog to come with high pitched baby sounds and hand clapping if necessary.
- When the dog starts to move towards you – click –this is important, we reinforce the dog for leaving his prior occupation and starting to march towards us. After the click, have the dog continue walking to you to get the treats.
- The treating after the click should be long and slow. It should take 15-30 seconds of delivering one treat after the other accompanied with verbal praise. We are trying to tell the dog that being near us is always so much fun.
- Start doing this at a very short distance – 5 feet or so. Increase the distance gradually.
- After the dog finished his treats, let it get back to its business, whatever that is.
- Repeat this exercise 5 times a day for 2 days. Then, start doing the exercise while the dog is a bit busier with a favorite toy or something like that.
- After 2 more days, start doing this exercise when the dog is even busier – maybe with his/her dry food.
With this, you need to have low expectations. Start at about 3 feet, say the name, and if the dog looks at you – say come and show the treat – if the dog starts marching towards you – click, treat, and let him/her go back to eating the dry food.
If the dog fails to look at you when you call him/her. Work on teaching the name some more.
- It is important to note that we never go and deliver the treat to the dog. The dog always needs to come to us to get the goodies.
- Add distractions gradually.