How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called

When you get a new dog, whether it is a puppy or new to your home, it is important to learn how to train your dog to come when called. This article will discuss why training your dog to come when called is important and how you can teach your dog to come when called. In addition, it will provide information from the experts so that you can get their take on the matter as well.

Why It Is Important to Learn How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called

Training your dog to come when called is not just a matter of having a cute trick to show off, but rather, can be a matter of life and death for the dog. It is important to have a dog that responds quickly to the “Come!” command.

Having your dog trained to come when called is also important in that it can save you a lot of time, energy, and frustration when trying to get your dog back in the house, or to get it to come to you so you can trim its nails, give him medication, and so on.

Therefore, teaching your dog to come is a vital part of training your pup.

Tools and Materials Needed to Teach Your Dog to Come on Command

  • Patience and perseverance
  • A 6-foot leash
  • A 15-to-30-foot leash
  • Treats
  • A strong bond with your dog

How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called

Patience and perseverance

No dog (or person, for that matter) can learn everything perfectly with just a couple of tries. You will need many consistent sessions with your dog. Also, you will need patience so that you do not get frustrated when your dog messes up.

A 6-foot leash

Begin by having your dog on a 6-foot leash. Decide on your command, will it be “Come!”, “Fido, come!” or some other version of that? Be consistent with your choice of command.

Allow your dog to get distracted by something while on a leash. Back up a few feet, facing your dog, and have a treat at the dog’s nose level. Squat down, use your chosen command and reward your dog with the treat or affection when he comes. If needed, you can give one or two gentle tugs at first to encourage your dog to come.

Practice this many times over (in various sessions) until your dog comes without any leash tugging on your part and without always getting a treat. It is imperative that you not move on to the next step until your dog is completely comfortable with this step and can do it without getting a treat. You do not want to move too quickly otherwise your dog may not learn to consistently come when called.

A 15-to-30-foot leash

Once your dog has mastered the portion of the training with the 6-foot leash, he will be ready to move on to the 15-to-30-foot leash.

Having the longer leash will allow you to get farther away from your dog. Repeat the basics that you did with the 6-foot leash, but go a bit further away from your dog each time. Once you are away from your dog, use your the command you chose, give a gentle tug on the leash if needed, and reward your dog with a treat (or lots of affection and praise) when he comes.

Once your dog has mastered coming to you when you are the full length of the leash away from him, you are ready to move him to off-leash training.

Be sure to keep him in a secure and contained area, such as a dog park or a fenced back yard. Get far from your dog and use the command you chose. Reward him with lots of praise when he comes.

To up the stakes, add distractions, such as other people or dogs, and have your dog come when called, even in the midst of distractions. Getting your dog to come while distracted may take a bit of time and lots of effort, but it is imperative because your dog should learn that when he hears the command, he is to come no matter what is going on around him.

A Strong Bond with Your Dog

Having a healthy relationship with your dog is critical in teaching your dog to come consistently. Your dog should look to you for all of his instruction. Reward your dog often for making eye contact with you, even if just with praise or a smile. Do things together and develop a strong bond that will make you the central and most important person in your dog’s life.

Training Your Dog to Come on Command

Some Points to Keep in Mind When Training Your Dog to Come on Command

Be sure to practice very consistently and slowly before moving up from the 6-foot leash to the 15-to-30-foot leash and the fenced area. It is a case of quality being more important than quantity. It is not about how quickly your dog learns to come when called, but how consistently he comes when called. Therefore, aim for 100% consistency before moving on to the next step in the training process.

If your dog is not responding well, remove any distractions. Try jogging backward, away from your dog, to encourage him to follow you. Sometimes clapping your hands may help.

Some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Getting upset if your dog does not come right away and punishing him when he does. Do not punish your dog when he comes to you. Otherwise, you are teaching him the opposite of “come!” You are teaching the dog that, if he comes to you, he will be punished. Therefore, even if it takes your dog a while to come, be sure to praise him once he does come.
  • Having your dog come to you only for something unpleasant. If your dog hates getting his nails trimmed, do not use the command in that unpleasant scenario until your dog has fully mastered the command. Moreover, even then, you want to be sure to continue to use the command for pleasant things, not just unpleasant ones.
  • Moving toward your dog when you call him. Always jog away from your dog. Otherwise, he will think this is just a fun game of chase.

What Do the Experts Say About How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called?

Victoria Stilwell

Victoria has four stages to teach your dog to come to you when called. Bellow are the four videos for each of those stages.

Stage One


Stage Two

Stage Three

Stage Four

Cesar Millan

Cesar talks about some of the reasons dogs will not come when owners call them and why it is imperative that you teach your dog to come when called.

Read More Training Articles

Did you enjoy this article? Read more articles in our training series:

Train Your Dog to Leave It

Teaching Your Dog to Drop It

How to Train Your Dog to Heel

Potty Train Your Puppy

Teach Your Dog to Sit

Have you ever tried to teach your dog to come when called? What are some things that worked (or did not work) for you?



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