How To Train Your Dog To Come When Called Every Time?

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Rover Right Over

By Marilyn Marks

Is Rover not coming when called?  Not surprising.  Why should he?  He knows he’s going crated for the day or that it means he has to come inside from playing in the yard (how many kids have to be called repeatedly and they only come in with an “aw geez” attitude?).

Perhaps you’ve used “come” as a way to get him to leave something alone or to move in your direction instead of the way he’d like to go?  Maybe you’ve also punished him after running away (of course, you can’t punish him until he comes home).

Do you see how Rover equates the word with things he will find unpleasant?  Would you come if you were in his paws?  If you were, what would you need to convince you (educate you) that when you hear the word “come” you should go rushing toward your master? 

Remember, you’re a dog, so “come” isn’t an English word, it’s just a sound that signals “rush to the owner.”

First, you would need to have something relevant happen after you hear the sound “Rover, come!” and you would have to hear the sound paired often with the relevant outcome to learn fast.  So, starting indoors when he’s calm, say the word “come” and give your dog highly desirable food – not a dog cookie, we’re talking cheese here.  Your dog doesn’t even have to move; simply say the word and hand the tidbit.  Very soon, your dog will move when he hears that word!  How about saying the word before a car ride, a walk, or dinner, too?  One trainer planted hamburgers in tress before walking in the woods with the dogs.  When she knew she was near one of them, she’d call them and give this huge reward that seemed, to the dogs, to come out of nowhere.

Of course, since you’re a dog, you’d still be looking for any signs and signals that would offer you a better deal.  You’d notice whether your owner’s body language, style of dress, location, etc. said: “good payoff” or “bad for dog” this time.  So, next, your master better makes sure that he has a 30-foot line on you (dragging, not a flexi) in case you decide that rushing out the door, chasing that bicycle, etc. looked like a better option. 

Third, your owner should not simply wait for a time when he needs you to come,  otherwise, you may learn to run off to get called.  So he should call at various intervals and conditions so you’re always ready to turn and rush towards him.

That’s all there is to it:  call often, in a variety of situations, have control over the outcome (long line), and give highly-valued rewards. 

For a more detailed recall education program for dogs check out

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