Caysun was playing with about ten other dogs (safely in a fenced yard). She was by far the youngest pup of the group and was really enjoying herself. The play was getting a bit rough and she was a fair distance away from me. I called her name “Caaaaaysun! Here!” Her head shot up, reminding me of a meerkat, and she dodged a dog on her right, scooted past a dog immediately in her path, lost her footing because she turned so quickly, and then made a beeline for me. She couldn’t get to me fast enough! Tail wagging, her nose bounced off my hand and she sat, pretty as you please, at my feet. Now THAT’S a recall! I gave her a piece of chicken and released her back to play with the others.
Caysun’s behavior isn’t uncommon. I took the time to teach her how exciting it was when I yelled the word “Here!” and how much fun it was to touch my hand. She has a stellar recall to this day.
“Come” is something that young pups can learn, as well as old dogs. So what, exactly, does come when called mean to the dog? It means “Come here, quick! There’s a party going on and you’re invited!” I like to teach the dog something very specific to do when I call. I teach the dog to touch his nose to my hand. Here’s my reasoning: If you just teach the dog to come closer, that’s way too vague. “Closer” means nothing. And in an emergency (the dog slips his leash on the corner of a busy street), you need the dog to come to you and be right by your side for safety’s sake.
Thankfully, teaching your dog to come to you when called is really easy, if you follow these guidelines.
- Teach your dog that touching his nose to your hand is a good thing.
- Present the hand straight down by your side, next to your pant leg.
- When your sure the dog will touch your hand when you put it down, add the word. Say “Here!” in a happy, fun voice, then put your hand down.
- Start increasing distance one step (take a step backward, then call the dog) at a time.
- After your dog is able to come from a distance of about 20 feet, switch to working on distractions.
Here’s a how-to video to show you the steps to teach your dog a reliable recall.
Rules for the Human
- Reward the dog generously every time he comes!
- Don’t use the word (I use “here”) to start something yucky
- Don’t use the word to stop something fun
- Reward the dog even if he stopped along the way, or didn’t come right away
- Make him believe the party is where YOU are!
- Never (EVER!) scold or correct your dog if he comes to you. If you feel the need to discipline your dog, you go to him to do it. (For the record, Smart Dog U does not advise scolding your dog. But that’s an entirely different article.)
You know you’re doing it right when your dog comes bounding to you! See Schooner demonstrate an enthusiastic dog in the next “Come When Called” article!
Your turn: Has a reliable recall ever saved your dog? Leave a comment letting us know how teaching your dog to come when called has come in handy.