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  • Writer's pictureThousand Hills Pet Resort

Training Tips: The Do’s and Don’ts of “Come”

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

By Emily Schultze

It’s every pet owner’s nightmare. You hear the creak of your front door and suddenly notice that your dog is nowhere to be found. You dash out to your front yard, but it’s too late— your dog is having the time of their life running down the street. If you ever have had this experience or are just looking to avoid it in the future, you probably are wondering how you can get your dog to come back to you. In this training tip video, New Life K9 educators go over the do’s and don’t of teaching your dog recall.

There are a few common pitfalls that people experience when training their dogs to come back to them. One of the first things that people often do is over repeat a command or even their dog’s name. This has about the same effect as kids saying “mom” over and over again during a trip to the grocery store— you learn to tune it out. Also, dogs are sensitive to your tone, so if you are visibly frustrated because they haven’t been following your command, the dog will avoid returning to you because they want to avoid getting in trouble.

Another tool that is relied on when training dogs is a shock collar. While a shock collar can appear to be effective in the short term, it usually falls short over time. This is due to the fact that in order for the collar to work, it has to always be on the dog. Your dog will learn that it is the collar that gives them the negative reinforcement, and so, they might not follow your direction if they ever escape when they don’t have the collar on. Using the shock collar can also damage your bond with your dog. The negative association of the shock can extend to you as well. Instead of learning to follow your commands, your dog might just learn to avoid you in order to not experience punishment.

While shock collars are not the best tools to use when training your dog to “come”, practicing patience is an invaluable one. It is important to be mindful of your own dog’s nature and abilities. For instance, if your dog has difficulties returning to you when you are outside, pay attention to when you are calling them. If you are calling them when their head is down and they are absorbed in the interesting smell of a tree or the lawn, you are setting your dog up for failure. A dog’s instincts will prevent them from being able to hear you if they are caught up in taking in all the information they take in through their nose. Another point to remember is that some dogs are not well suited to being off lease in a non-gated area. For example, a hunting dog will have stronger instincts to focus in on something to chase, which most often means they will not be listening for your call.

Another tip to keep in mind is to not always call your dog only when the fun is over. Your dog won’t want to come back to you if they associate it with something negative. Instead, call your dog back a few times before you leave the park or dog beach, or give them a treat on the car ride home in order to build a positive association with recall. Developing a positive bond with your dog, where you both trust each other to take care of each other’s needs, is one of the most important steps to take when going through training your dog.

In the process of training, it is best to start small. You can begin with calling your dog to you when they are in the same room as you, then move onto other rooms or the outdoors before taking them to the park. Slowly building a positive association with coming back to you will make the entire process a better experience for both you and your pet. However, if you are building said reinforcement with treats, make sure that you are also engaging with them instead of simply handing them the treat. You want your dog to come back to you, not just the treat.

Overall, try a variety of different ways to train with your dog and figure out which method works best for them. If you have any other questions check out the full video here or contact the Thousand Hills Pet Resort!


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