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Calling your Dog

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Calling your Dog

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Teaching your dog to come to you when you call it is one of the most important exercises for their training and safety, so it is worth devoting time to this fundamental obedience command.

You may use a word to call your dog, or its own name, but it probably doesn't work all of the time. Your best option is to choose a different word to call your dog and command it to your side; in our step by step guide we've chosen "here".

Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn the best way of calling your dog and training it to come to your side. Read on!

You may also be interested in: How to Get Your Dog to Listen

Training your dog to come to your call

To do thus training exercise, you will need:

  • Equipment and aides: A bag and treats or pieces of food.
  • Place: Wherever there are no distractions.
  • Signal: "Come".

Procedure

Standing up, show your dog a piece of food or a favorite treat and say "Come, come, come" with a different tone - you can use a sing-song voice - and drop the treat between your feet. Once your dog has eaten it, repeat the procedure.

When you notice that your dog gets excited and comes to you every time you say "Come, come, come" in that voice, repeat the exercise in different places at home while you are in different positions, alternating between standing and sitting, for instance.

This is similar to clicker training or teaching the dog its name. You are creating an association between the signal "Come, come, come" and the food, so that the word means pleasant consequences for your dog. But you're also associating that signal with your dog coming to you, as well as eating the food between your feet. This is called conditioning.

The different tone of voice is useful to attract the dog's attention. However, remember that you're using the signal "come" and not the definitive order "here" because you want to get your dog to come almost before you actually start using the signal.

Observations

  • This exercise is very simple and should not present any major problems. However, be sure to maintain a very high rate of reinforcement to keep your dog motivated. This can be achieved by changing the treats every once in a while; you can use dog snacks or little Frankfurter pieces.
  • If you don't want your dog to eat the food from off the ground, hand it from the palm of your hand but keep it very close to you. The important thing is that the dog keeps all four feet on the ground when coming to your call.
  • If your dog is a puppy, has vision problems or cannot see the pieces of food because of the type of floor (thick carpet, tall grass, etc.), it will be difficult to find the food. In these cases, present the food in the palm of your hand, keeping it close to you.

Evaluation

On a day when you haven't practiced this exercise, in a place free from distractions, say "Come, come, come" in the chosen voice to attract your dog's attention. You can crouch down if you like. If your dog comes to you quickly and happily, you can move on to the next step.

Calling your Dog - Training your dog to come to your call

Teaching the "here" command

The equipment and places are the same as in the previous dog training exercise. However, now you will start using the definitive "here" command, and you will make use of a clicker.

Procedure

Show your dog a piece of food. Quickly step back two or three feet while repeating "come, come, come" in the previously taught high-pitched and playful voice. You have to appeal to your dog, so you can also clap, slap your thighs, duck down or do anything to attract your dog's attention.

By repeating "come, come, come" in a high-pitched voice you are creating a temporary signal for the command. This signal will allow you to call your dog during training sessions, while still not using the definitive signal "here".

While your dog comes to you, use the clicker and put the piece of food between your feet. Then, turn around or turn to another angle and repeat the procedure.

Once your dog consistently and quickly comes whenever you step back and repeat "come, come, come", start to use the command "here". Say it before you step back and only once. Do not repeat the word. If your dog does not come when you step back, you can call it by repeating "come, come, come".

Repeat the exercise in at least three different places without distractions. In each place, you can train while stepping backwards, forwards and sideways.

Observations

It is important that you do not repeat the word "here". If your dog is not closer after you say it, put the food near its nose and guide it towards you. Then, give your dog the food. If this happens too often, there may be too many distractions in your training location, or your reinforcement rate might be too low. Check these two factors.

Evaluation

On a day when you haven't practiced this exercise say "here" and quickly retreat. If your dog comes quickly and happily, you've successfully mastered the skill of calling your dog. Otherwise, do two or three more of these sessions and re-evaluate.

Calling your Dog - Teaching the "here" command

If you want to read similar articles to Calling your Dog, we recommend you visit our Basic education category.

Tips
  • Practice in different places, gradually increasing the possible distractions.
  • Practice regularly so that your dog doesn't forget the command.
  • Always praise your dog, even if it is just with one treat.

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