Why Doesn’t My Dog Come When Called?

dogrunDoes your dog ignore you when you call?  Many dog owners answer that question everyday with a “yes”.  Contrary to popular belief your dog is not being stubborn.  Clients will say “he knows that I am calling him but he just ignores me.”  Owners blame the dog sometimes to the extreme of hurting and calling the dog names.  I advise them to put themselves in the dogs place, just for a second.

The questions I would ask the owners would be:

Did you just stop the dog from playing or having fun?  Did you call him, put him in the crate and leave him?  Did you yell at him for something you found he did wrong?

As I said earlier, you need to look at it from your dogs perspective.  He may have been in the yard having fun, you called him to come in the house, and now his fun is over.  In his mind, the next time you call him to “come” means his fun is over.  How many times has someone called you and your reply was “I’ll be there in a minute”?  You may have been on the phone or the computer or doing something totally enjoyable, and you made the other person wait.  The point is we can rationalize it, the dog can not.  Dogs do not think logically with reason.  They don’t think, “oh, my owner has to go now so I am sure he will let me back out later and I can play again.”  I don’t think so!  It would be nice if they thought that way but they don’t.

Come must be the strongest command without a doubt.  All dogs need a strong recall in order to keep them safe at all times.  Some owners like to have two different come commands.  One for everyday and one for emergencies.

So what do we do if our dog is ignoring us?  We now need to make a new association with the dog that coming to you doesn’t mean that the fun isn’t over.  In fact if they come they may have more fun!  You can do that with a special toy, a really good treat, or whatever your dog likes.  Keep it as the “come” treat if you wish, or vary your reinforcers for the dog.  This way you will always keep the dog excited and guessing as to what you may do next.

The importance here is you must always reinforce the dog.  It must always be positive.  Never ever call you dog to come so that you can either scold or punish the dog.  Put yourself in your dog’s shoes, would you want to come if I was calling you, then the minute you do, I lock you up in your crate and leave.  You would run around the room to and have me chase you too!  When the dog does that he is not doing it to make you mad or late for work, quite the contrary.  He wants you to stay home and play with him.  Even if he gets ten more minutes of your attention by having you chase him that works for him.

There is a really good reason why I am trying to show you the significance of having your dog come when you say

come.  It is his safety and well being.  What if a car is coming and he is chasing a squirrel, or what if he is going towards another dog that you know will end in a fight?  You need a 100% recall no matter what.  You must have the confidence that he will come each and every time.

Training the reliable come isn’t hard; in fact it is very easy.  Your dog will come each and every time as long as you make it rewarding.  What if every time I called you to come I was waiving a $100 dollar bill and you could have it.  I am pretty sure you would be having a reliable recall!  In fact keep that thought in your mind every time you call your dog.  Think reward, even if it is just a pat on the head or a quick belly rub.  It’s not something that has to take a ton of time.  Although your dog would like it to be.  So on days when you have that extra five minutes, reward him with that extra game of fetch or tug.  This little extra time each and everyday will not only enhance your relationship with your dog, it will build that 100% reliable recall.

Call Kim Paciotti at 704-877-7821 or email kim@trainingcanines.com to help you teach your dog to come every time.  Visit our website at www.trainingcanines.com

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