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Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

Puppy Training

Teaching a young puppy (less than 4 months of age) to come when she’s called is relatively easy, because puppies are insecure and want to stay close to their pet parents. Practice the following exercises with your puppy to ensure that she’ll continue to come when she’s called as she gets older.

Restrained Recalls

Have someone hold your puppy across the room or down the hall from you. Sit on the floor, facing her, with your arms outstretched. Call your puppy in a happy, preferably high-pitched tone of voice. Say her name and your cue just once—for example, “Sasha, come!”—and then cheer her on with “Pup, pup, pup!” You can also clap your hands, whistle and make kissy noises. Be as exciting and fun as possible! Have your assistant let your puppy go as soon as she looks at you. Continue to encourage and praise her as she comes to you. Make a big fuss and give her treats when she reaches you.

Hansel & Gretel

Run around your house or yard, calling your puppy and encouraging her to keep up with you. When she catches up, drop a few treats on the floor. (Be sure to show her the treats so she sees you drop them and stops to eat them.) Just as she’s finishing the treats, say “Sasha, come!” and run away from her. When she catches you, drop more treats and run away again. Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times per training session. As your puppy matures, you can run further away from her before dropping the treats.

Stick Close to Me Outside

Take every opportunity to have your puppy off leash in your fenced yard and in safe areas away from home (for example, your friend’s fenced backyard or a nearby tennis court or fenced school yard). Move away from your puppy and encourage her to follow you by calling her name, bending over and patting your legs. Periodically give her treats or her favorite toy when she catches up with you. The objective is to teach your puppy to stick close to you. Puppies who are always on leash learn the exact opposite—they learn that no matter where they go, their pet parent is always six feet behind them at the end of the leash.

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