Does your dog ignore you or run away from your frantic calls? Getting ignored by your pup when you call can be one of the most defeating situations in pet ownership. Even dogs that are attentive listeners inside can seem to lose their sense of hearing outside. Not only is this annoying, but it is also a huge safety risk. You need to trust that your dog will come when called if they escape the yard or break free of their leash. Older dogs can also lose the skills to come when called if their environment or routine changes. Let’s examine why your dog ignores commands to come and what you can do to fix this behavior.
Why won’t my dog come when called?
There are a large number of potential reasons why your dog isn’t coming when you call, but these are the four most common reasons:
1. Your dog doesn’t want to get in trouble.
It is possible that your dog has come to associate being called with being punished. This does not necessarily mean you have punished your dog frequently after calling for them. For your dog, stopping the fun activity of running around the yard, barking at a squirrel, digging at the fence, or whatever they are doing when you use the recall command could seem like punishment. If you consistently use the recall command to end their fun (and you do not reward them for stopping), you are creating a negative correlation for your dog.
That being said, if you punish your dog by yelling, spanking, or other means because they are not responding fast enough to your calls, you are most certainly damaging the trust in your relationship with your dog—and effective recall training hinges on trust.
2. Your dog doesn’t associate recall with reward.
Dogs in recall training will need a good reward for coming when called. Brief physical affection or verbal praise will not cut it with this training. Most dogs will require a food reward or treat to motivate them to come. However, some toy-motivated pups will get more out of an enthusiastic game of tug of war with a favorite toy. Without this reward, your dog may eventually think coming when called is not worth it and ignore you instead.
3. Your dog is distracted during training.
The setting of your recall training is important. Teaching your canine companion how to come when called will be much more challenging at a park or in a fenceless backyard. Busy, loud, or uncontained spaces will not be conducive to successful training. It is best to start in a distraction-free space, preferably indoors and away from other people or pets. From there, you can increase the difficulty as your dog’s skills improve, moving outside and into more crowded or distraction-filled areas.
How do I teach my dog to come when called?
Teaching your dog recall skills comes down to positive association, consistency, and trust. Your dog needs to associate coming when called with a positive experience which means you need to create a positive experience for that behavior every time until it clicks. This consistency will build trust between you and your dog. They will recall on command when they trust you are calling them for a good reason. Instilling this skill in your dog can take time, experience, and a lot of patience.
If you are struggling to train your dog to come when called, All Dogs Unleashed can help. We know that owners and dogs get the most out of their relationships when there is mutual trust and understanding. Our experienced trainers have very specific tools to help you become the best trainer you can be so your dog can become your ideal companion.