Teaching your dog to come when you call – otherwise known as a recall – is one the best things you can do for your dog. Having a reliable recall will allow your dog more off leash freedom and is a potential life saver. So why is this such a hard thing to teach?? I think there are several factors at play here.
First, people use the word “come” when they can’t 100% be sure the dog will do it. If your dog is running around off leash and you yell “puppy, come” and your dog just looks at you, you’ve just taught the dog that “come” is optional. If you’re going to use the word “come” you need to have your dog on a long line or in a small enough area that you can go get them. Don’t give the dog the option of not listening.
Second, people inadvertently ruin their recalls by calling their dog and then doing something the dog perceives as negative. For instance, when people take their dogs to the dog park they unclip the leash and don’t pay any attention to their dog until it’s time to leave. Then they call the dog, clip on the leash and leave. Dogs quickly learn that coming to you ends the fun. Coming to you should ALWAYS be rewarding for the dog.
Finally, people forget that when their dog is loose and having a good time that they are competing with the environment for their dog’s attention. You’re going to have to up your game if you’re going to be more fascinating than a squirrel! Arm yourself with tastier treats, or better yet, use the environment as the reward. Call your dog to you, and when they respond, reward them by letting them chase that squirrel.
How’s your dog’s recall??