Dog Won’t Come When Called? Here’s What You Should Do
Is your dog struggling to come when you call them? Don’t worry. You can train even the most stubborn dogs to come by following a few tips and tricks to improve your dog’s recall response. To train your dog to come on the first call, you’ll want to identify why your dog won’t come when called.
Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Come When Called
There are several common reasons why your dog may be reluctant or unresponsive:
Worried About Getting in Trouble
If you’ve punished or yelled at your dog when they haven’t come in the past, then they’ll associate the command with getting in trouble. This will make your dog reluctant to come when it is called. If your dog associates the command “come” with an angry tone, then you’ll want to retrain your dog to come to a different command word.
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Likes What It’s Doing
Your dog may not come because it is having too much fun to stop what it is doing. Whether it is chasing a squirrel, running free off-leash, or playing at the dog park, your dog might struggle to come when it is so distracted by fun activities.
If your dog has a hard time stopping what it is doing, you may want to get some favorite treats or toys that will help persuade your dog to come when called. If the dog knows it’ll get a favorite treat when they come, they will be more responsive.
Doesn’t Want Fun to End
Your dog may struggle to come if it knows the command always means the fun will end or it is about to do something it doesn’t want to do. So if you only call your dog to come when it is time to go home, go in the crate, or go to the vet, you’re dog will associate the command with an undesirable outcome.
To get your dog to come when you call, you’ll want to call your dog while doing the fun activity. If they come, reward them with a desirable treat and then let them go back to playing. This will teach your dog that they need to come when called and that it doesn’t signal the end of the fun.
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How to Get Your Dog to Come When Called
The best way to train your dog to come is to make training a game. By making it a game, your dog will be more engaged and willing to learn. To effectively train your dog, you’ll want to take it slow at first in an environment that has minimal distractions. You’ll need a new toy or training treats to teach them to come using positive reinforcement:
- Show them the toy or treat.
- Give them praise if they come toward you.
- Then give them the treat or toy if they come. Do this a few times.
- Move away from your dog and give the command “come,” then show your dog the reward.
- If they come, reward them and repeat the process while slowly adding more distance.
Eventually, you’ll want to hide the treat until after they come. Once your dog gets the hang of coming when called, you can introduce games to make training more fun:
When taking your dog for a walk, get your dog’s attention and then run a few steps away from them. Call them to come. If your dog comes to you, give them a treat. Do this several times during the walk.
For this game, you’ll want to be in a different room and give the command for your dog to come. If they do, reward them with praise and treats. Then go to another room and play again.
Hot Potato is a great game to teach your dog to come to other people. With another person, take turns calling your dog to come. If they come to you or the other person, make sure to reward your dog.
How to Get A Stubborn Dog to Come
If your dog is particularly stubborn and refuses or ignores your call to come, it could be because you’ve poisoned the cue, where the dog associates the cue with an unclear meaning or a negative association. If you overuse the cue by repeating it over and over, the dog will learn it doesn’t need to respond.
There are several things you can do to retrain your dog to respond the first time you call:
- Don’t repeat the command when you give it.
- Reward your dog when they acknowledge you and pay attention to you.
- Use very desirable treats or toys to reward your dog so that they’ll be motivated to train.
- Practice every day. Vary the difficulty and level of distraction.
How Do You Discipline a Dog That Doesn’t Come When Called?
Never punish your dog for not coming, even if it takes a long time. By punishing your dog, you’ll only reinforce the behavior, and your dog will be even more reluctant to come the next time.
If your dog associates come with anger or punishment, you may want to train them to come by using a new command word like “here.” This will create a fresh start and maybe easier to get your dog to come.
Dog Suddenly Doesn’t Want to Come Inside
If your dog is generally pretty good at coming when called, then it can be very frustrating and confusing when your dog suddenly refuses to come inside. There are a few typical reasons they don’t want to come inside:
- Your dog hasn’t spent enough time outside and needs more exercise outdoors. Dogs usually need a couple of hours a day to fulfill their exploratory natures.
- Something inside the house is unsettling to your dog. This could be new smells, new people, or a significant change to the environment that is creating anxiety for your dog.
- Disobeying may be a sign that your dog has an underlying health issue. You should call your vet if your dog shows other symptoms of poor health.
Remember Patience and Love When Training Your Dog to Come
It can be really frustrating when your dog disobeys. But remember that anger and punishment will only aggravate the problem. When training your dog to come, use a calm loving voice and remember patience because it will take time. With lots of practice and love, you’ll be able to train your dog to come on the first call.
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