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Why won’t my dog come to me when called?

Why doesn’t your dog come to you when you call? - JustAnswer

Why won’t my dog come to me when called?

By Monica on 25 April, 2016

Today, one of JustAnswer’s long-standing dog training Experts, Jane, explains a fundamental element of the relationship between you and your dog - why doesn’t your dog come to you when you call? A dog not under full control can be a nuisance to other people and a worry to their owner. Jane has been a verified Expert with JustAnswer for nearly ten years. Here she explains why your dog won’t come back - and how to change that and ensure that “Come!” is obeyed in future.

My name is Jane and I have been professionally working as a dog trainer/behaviourist for over 18 years now, though I have always been involved with training dogs.  One of the most common complaints that I hear is that a client’s dog will not come to them when called. Clients tell me that they have tried treats to tempt their dog to come and it does not work. Their dog just runs away or barks at them and just escapes their grasp if they should try to catch them. They are mystified as to why their dog acts this way because they have never treated their dog badly.  Usually at a loss as to what to do, they turn to a professional trainer.

My first question to owners when confronted with this situation is what they do when their dog does come to them. The answers range from “put dog back on the lead”,” make the dog come into the house”, or “crate the dog”. If you were a dog running around the yard or even free running at a park, would you want to be put on the leash or made to come in the house  or stop playing.  It would not be that bad if that were not the result every single time they are called. In addition, dogs love a good game of chase so when an owner gives chase, it seems like a great game to your dog. This gives you a little insight into why a dog might not be inclined to obey the recall command.

The solution is to teach the dog that coming to you is pleasurable and does not mean they will be contained all the time. A dog needs to be called to you often and rewarded with a tasty treat and calm praise each time. Over half the time, the dog needs to be allowed to continue their activities. Your dog will start associating coming to you with the treat and since you are not containing them the majority of the time, they do not associate it with the end of fun time. Obeying your recall command becomes something your dog wants to do every time and not a command they dread. Once that goal is reached, the treats can be cut back but calm praise must continue so the dog still finds coming to you pleasurable. Never totally cut out the treats but make it unpredictable. This way the dog will not know when you have treats or not.  I have had fantastic results using this method.

If you have further questions for Jane about any aspect of your dog’s behaviour, please click here. Remember JustAnswer Experts are available to help 24/7!