How To Get Your Dog To Come To You

Owner-Created Problems


If your dog doesn't come when he's called, it's very likely an owner-created or family-created problem, not your dog’s problem. By not training your dog properly, you can create a dog that you have little or no control over. That’s the first mistake.

You may have taught your dog not to come to you by punishing him when he finally does. Look at it from your dog’s point of view. You keep yelling at him to come, but when he finally does, what happens to him? He is spanked or yelled at, over corrected, jerked around and once back home, maybe even locked up or isolated from his pack members, meaning your family. Dogs are not stupid; they will avoid coming to you as long as they can if this is the only reward they can expect. Can you blame them? Who would come back happily just to be punished!

Coming to you needs to always be a positive experience for your dog. Even if you have had to chase him (which is the last resort), or follow him pretending to enjoy it, as if this was your idea! When he finally returns to you, or you simply catch up to him and are lucky enough to gently grab his collar and hook the leash on, swallow your anger and your pride and praise your dog!

You may ask, “Isn’t that just praising my dog for running away and not coming to me?” No. Dogs recognize praise or corrections for the very last act they committed prior to the praise. So the “last act” prior to the praise was your dog came to you or allowed you to approach him and hook him to his leash. You need to praise, not punish, for that act. Believe me, punishing your dog for not returning to you when you have given a recall command is simply training your dog not to come on command.

Keep the following in mind:

  1. Coming to you must always be a positive experience for your dog.
  2. If your dog is not rock solid off-leash trained, do not put yourself in a situation where you recall your dog and cannot enforce it. Work more on the recall with your dog on-leash or on a long training line until he is reliable with the “come” command. If your dog consistently refuses to return to you on the “Come” command, it’s time to think of a different recall word. It’s time to replace the recall word with “Front” or “Here.” It’s often easier to change the recall word than to change the attitude of your dog and his response to the command, “Come!” Simply start over using a new word and attach a positive reward to that word.
  3. Never call your dog to you when you are going to perform a negative task like giving pills, brushing teeth, taking a bath, etc. Instead, go to your dog and do what you have to do, but never call him to you for anything he may perceive as unpleasant. And never say “come, come, come! when he is chasing a squirrel or “come” will = chase squirrel! You get the idea. Dogs and puppies connect actions to words, so get the action first...your puppy or dog moving towards you...and then say “come here!” as if it’s a party.
  4. Dogs are very social beings. They'd much rather come to a party than a punishment. DO NOT punish your dog for not coming, this will only make him not want to come or get caught. Dogs live in the moment and if you are upset and scold them for not coming, they will connect getting caught with being in trouble and avoid coming to you. Be patient, the “come” does not “come” over night. This is an advanced command and as your dog matures, he will be like any teen, he will test you but if you’re consistent and you practice “come here!” with treats and praise, he will continue to want to come to you.


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