Teaching your puppy to come to you

Teaching your dog to come running to you when you call is possibly the most important lesson they can learn. Commence training at a very young age, 9 weeks is fine, and make sure you use a lot of praise, love and tasty treats.


Further below is what to do, but it is most important to understand what NOT to do if you would like your puppy / dog do have a good, happy, reliable recall.
NEVER CALL YOUR DOG TO YOU AND THEN PUNISH HIM - this is the worst thing you could ever possibly do. Imagine if every time your Boss called you into his or her office, they threatened you and cut your wages back. How would you feel about going into that office? (Most people would hate the Boss and the Boss's office, and would look for work elsewhere. Your dog can not do this, he is stuck with you.) No matter how 'mad' you are at your dog, if you call him to you make it pleasant when he gets there.

NEVER, EVER, CHASE YOUR DOG unless it is a matter of life or death. This will only teach your pup the running away is okay, and we all know it most definitely is not. It is very tempting indeed to be lured into a game of chasey by your puppy, but resist all temptation to do this. Your pup can still enjoy a game of chase with you, but you have to be the one who is pursued. Many dogs who are in the habit of being chased use it if they do not want to do something, for instance, you say 'come here', your Boxer gets that 'look' in his eye and is off around the yard as fast as he can go - this is NOT a good thing at all, no matter how 'cute' it is when he was little. The best way to get around this is to never encourage it in the first place, and your pup will never learn he has the 'option' of running away.

NOTE: If you are planning on trialing in obedience, change the 'come' command to something different. In obedience trialing a lot of people use 'come' as the recall command, and the trial ring recall if a bit different from the recall you expect around the home, so will need a different cue word.

One way to teach the home recall is the 'whistle' method. If you do not whistle, find another loud noise you can make, which your dog can hear no matter where he or she is in your house or yard. Make sure you always use the same noise or type of 'whistle'. Have your puppy close to you, make the noise or whistle and immediately give a few tasty treat, if you do this many times your pup will associate that noise with food. You can gradually increase the distance your pup is away from you when making your 'come here' noise - be sure to always treat when your pup arrives and to praise your puppy as well. If you are very consistent with this, in a few months your pup will come from anywhere to that noise, and you should be able to drop giving the treats for say 2 in every 10 recalls, that is, for every 2 where you call your pup because you have too, and there is no food on hand, make sure you do 8 in a controlled situation when you can offer food.

NOTE: Food is NOT a bribe, it is a payment for a job well done. You would not go to work for no payment, and our canine friends are much the same, if they do a good job, they deserve a reward.

You can also make use of your pup's natural instincts which make them like to follow the leader. Most puppies will decide to go with you when you decide to walk away from them, you can use this by getting a few paces ahead of them and then call 'come' in a high happy voice. As soon as your pup gets to you give them lots of pats, cuddles and praise. Your pup will adore this and you will be well on your way to a reliable recall if you are consistent.

Another way to get a good start with the recall command is to seek out the help of another person who the puppy likes. You can use the hallway in your home, or a fenced yard. Both of you should crouch down on opposite sides of the room or yard, with one of you holding the puppy. The person without the puppy should start calling him or her in a very happy voice, perhaps clapping hands to or waving a favourite toy. When the puppy arrives to that person, then he should receive a treat, lots of praise and a game with the toy. Do this between the two people a few times in a row, but if your pup is very young, do not let him got tired or too overexcited. Remember, when he reaches you, act like he's done the greatest thing in the whole world! For a pup who is not the keenest at this, get the 'holder' to restrain him for a few seconds when the other person starts calling. This minor 'restraint' will make him even keener to go to the person calling him. Most puppies adore this game.


* NEVER, ever scold your dog when she comes to you.
* NEVER, ever chase your dog!
* Be consistent with your training, always go overboard with the praise and treats with this exercise, and make sure that all the members of your family are doing the same thing.
* Be very wary of allowing young children to practice the recall exercise with your puppy, as they will probably be very inconsistent and not grasp all the objects of this exercise. Young children and puppies are often around the same mental age.
* NEVER allow your puppy off lead in an area which is not fenced or safe. It only takes a split second for an accident to happen, and even little pups can move very quickly when they want to. Pups have no idea about the dangers of the world which man lives in. It only takes one mistake to lose your dog forever. If you love him, put his safety first and keep him on his leash! Even dogs with the highest obedience titles and most reliable recalls should be kept on lead the majority of the time.