“I want my dog to come when called” is something that I hear quite a bit. One of the interesting things is that when people tell me that they want their dogs to come when called, it’s generally with a fairly stern face because who likes a dog that runs away when we want them to come? Maybe the situation is dangerous, or perhaps you just want the dog to come. So today, I want to discuss how I approach training my dogs and my client’s dogs to come when we call them.
My German Shepherds
Okay, so let’s talk about my German Shepherds, Gabby, Alpha, and Jericho. Gabby is six, Jericho will be five months old, and Alpha is will be seven months old. I expect Gabby to come when I call her unless she’s using the potty. That’s pretty much the exception. I try not to call her when she’s in the middle of her business. If she’s eating food or doing other exciting things, I like to call her away from that. I don’t always because it’s pretty tough to call a dog away from food when they’re hungry.
I still expect my dogs to come when I call them, and they have to do that. Now, with Alpha and Jericho, seven months and five months old, respectively. I don’t have that expectation yet. And one of the reasons is that I haven’t finished training them on why they should come.
Make It Valuable
There are three key things that I want the dog to learn in making them happy and reliable for coming when I call them. The first and most important thing is that I want it to be valuable when I call them to come back to me.
That doesn’t mean that I’m compelling them. It just means that there is a lot of reward for turning around and coming back. What kind of reward? Well, it’s really specific to your dog. I use food, petting, praise, and play. We play games like two-ball and tug, and I use those two games to make it very fun for the dog to come back to me.
One thing I should stress about this kind of training is that it’s rewards-based, and I never actually stop doing it for the dog’s life. For example, today, I’m still doing that with Gabby, who is a six-year-old dog, and I will continue to do that for the rest of her life.
Make Them Come When Called
Okay, so the second phase of the training is to show the dog that I can make them come when I call them. I do this via a training collar and a long line. What I do is I go out into the real world with these two pieces of equipment. And as the dogs get away from me, which I let them, I will use the training collar and the long line to call the dog back to me. I do not start this work until the dog has had at least a month of getting reward-based coming when called.
I’m going to do that for quite a bit of time with any dog I’m training because I want them to see the value in coming. And I want them to understand that I can make them come. So the last part that I train the dogs, which has the fewest repetitions, and if I could avoid this training, I would. Sometimes I get lucky, and I can avoid the training. But here’s what it is.
If I’ve been doing months of training to get the dog to come when I call them, and if they choose not to come because they would rather not, I can use some form of aversive. Generally, for my German Shepherds and me, I use an E-collar. I want them to understand that they will get corrected if they choose not to come and are obviously blowing me off not doing what they’ve been trained to do.
Is it cruel? No, it should just be the lowest amount to get the point across to the dog that’s choosing not to come after months of training and knowing that it’s good that they must.
Here’s the good news about this. If you do the other two levels of making it very fun for your dog to come and then go out into the world and show your dog that they must come by using a long line or other methods, you might not even have to do it this last one. If you want to expect that your dog is reliably going to come, you have to put the work in, and you have to maintain that by showing the dog that it’s just an excellent choice to come.
I hope this tip was helpful for you. Look, if you need some more personalized help, you may consider sending me a text message. You can always text me at 832-734-5189 and get an answer to your question. Also, visit my YouTube Channel for helpful videos and find more tips like this right here on my website www.longoriahausdogtraining.com.