Training our dog to “come” was certainly a challenge. He grew up mostly as a city dog, so he was rarely off-leash. Coming when we were playing inside was never an issue, but that’s mostly because there weren’t any distractions for him. No squirrels in the hallway or birds flying by! So when we tried to train him outside with those distractions, it took some effort. If you are still learning how to train your dog to come, here’s a great way to start the process. Play a game of hide and seek!
I found this blog to be helpful when training our pup – http://www.naturaldogblog.com/blog – and one fun activity was Hide and Seek. The idea is to increase your dog’s attraction to you by engaging their prey instinct. With repetition, you become more appealing to them than any distraction (like a squirrel) that may be present. Take some time to try this fun game. Just find a secluded place to play that doesn’t have a lot of distractions (a trail in the woods is perfect). Then here’s what you do:
- Have someone hold your dog’s leash
- Run down the trail and then find a place to hide that your dog can’t see
- Once you’re hidden, loudly call your dog’s name
- As soon as your friend hears you call, they should drop the leash so your dog can come find you
- When your dog finds you (they always do), give them lots of praise and some treats
- Play this game for a bit, but stop before your dog loses interest
This game is lots of fun for your dog and helps you become the focus of their attention. Keep doing this, along with other recall training techniques, and your dog will love to come when you call him!