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Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called – Should be music to your dogs ears…

November 1, 2010

Our latest Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice question comes from a responsible dog mom who has concerns about her dog Andrew dashing out the door. (Door dashing is considered a fun sport amongst us canines).

My certified professional dog trainer mom, and fellow dog behavior advice columnist decided to take care of the home management, enrichment and greeting at doors etiquette while I thought it would be best for this inquisitive canine to handle the running back to my mom when I’m called, AKA “recall” AKA “coming when called.”

Mom uses the same dog training tips and techniques with me as she teaches to students in her Ventura dog training classes and workshops, and with her private dog training clients. They were pretty easy and fun for me to learn, so I thought I’d share them with Andrew and his mom, as well as with our Inquisitive Canine readers.

  • Be happy when you call us: I love when mom uses her happy voice – it means she’s in a good mood and loves me up when I arrive. She knows that using a deep angry voice will cause me to ignore her wishes! Just like when her mom or dad were upset with her as a child she learned a certain tone of voice predicted nothing good for her. I learned the same thing. No matter what I’ve done, she always loves when I come running to her – so she knows which tone of voice and which facial expression will prompt me to run towards her and not away from her.
  • Only call us if you know you’re going to get the response you want: Otherwise it’s a waste of your breath which leads you to be more frustrated with your dog. If us dogs are in the middle of playing, chasing something or rolling in something dead, do you really think we’re going to come running to you if you’ve never taught us to do so? I think not. This means…
  • Practice-practice-practice! First with no distractions, then build up one distraction at a time! Until your dog becomes conditioned to run to you immediately after calling him or her one time, it’s unlikely to happen.
  • Motivation! Give your dog a great reason to come running to you. And remember, if you’re calling him or her at a time when the other motivator is highly competitive then you’ll want to make the reason for running to you worthwhile. My personal favorites are pieces of tuna, a fun training exercise like the ones in our Out of the Box Dog Training Game, and  playing fetch with my stuffed squeaky toys. Mom just redirects the energy to a rewarding outlet!

As mom says, “Practice it before you need it!” This means, get out there and start calling your dog to you, because this is one of those behaviors that never goes out of style!


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