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Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

Puppy Training continued...

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.

Training Exercises for Dogs of Any Age

Round-Robin Recalls

Have your family members spread out around your living room or fenced yard, at least 20 feet apart. While your family stands quietly, call “Sasha, come!” and encourage your dog to come by clapping, slapping your thigh or making high-pitched noises she likes. When your dog approaches, gently take hold of her collar, tell her “Good girl!” and give her a tasty treat. Release her and, when she’s done eating, have someone else call her, just like you did. If your dog wants to stay with you since you called her first, just look away from her, put your hands behind your back and wait.

Give each family member a chance to call your dog. While one person calls the dog, everyone else should remain silent and still. Once your dog catches on to this game, your family members can move farther apart or even hide in different rooms in the house. You’ll need to coordinate who’s going to call your dog in what order, though, or you’ll confuse her with multiple people calling her at the same time.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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