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Help! My dog doesn’t come when called

 by ben on 01 Jul 2019 |
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Not all dogs come when they’re called, leading to embarrassment in social situations and potentially putting Fido in danger if he escapes into oncoming traffic.

All dog parents have experienced a mix of horror and shame when their four-legged friend refuses to come when called. Whether Fido slid out the front door or refuses to cooperate during a day at the dog park, recovering your companion is the first step toward effective training. Read on for a few tips to help you master the “come” command:

1. Understand the problem: It’s important to remember that whatever the reason behind Fido’s breakaway, he’s not defying you out of spite. For some pets, especially younger dogs, the instinct to run is simply stronger than any training they’ve received to date. Other dogs may pick up on your angry or frustrated tone and fear being scolded when they return, so choose to run instead. In other cases, dogs may simply be ignoring your command—a behavior that likely stems from a lack of respect for you as their owner. Whatever the cause, be sure to use a calm, collected tone when calling your companion and never punish him when he does return.

2. Avoid future breaks: Every time your dog is in a situation where he can ignore the command to come, it reinforces bad behavior. This means off-leash time in public places is off limits until you master the command. You can use a long training leash to ease your pet into better obedience, but be sure to use a harness with this sort of leash, as a collar can lead to a painful jolt if your pet takes off running on a longer lead.

3. Punishment is not the answer: No matter how frustrated you are, punishing your dog when he returns to you creates the opposite conditioning to what you want. Instead, shower Fido with praise and treats when he returns. This will make following your commands a rewarding experience that your dog will want to replicate in the future.

4. Use positive reinforcement: Although you may want to call your dog when you’re ready to leave the park, this will seem like a punishment to your pet and make obeying the “come” command unattractive. Instead, call him over, reward him with a treat and praise, and release him back for further playtime. By showering him rewards, your dog will form positive associations with the “come” command over time.

5. Practice makes perfect: The only way to overcome your dog’s runaway habit is to practice until he has mastered the “come” command. Start by practicing on a long leash until you’re completely confident your pet will return when called. Use plenty of praise and treats as positive reinforcement each time your pet obeys the command.

With some practice and consistency, your dog can master this essential pillar of obedience, keeping him out of harm’s way and strengthening the bond you share with your pet.

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