Some Tips on How to Train a Dog to Come

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 1, 2022

how to train a dog to come

For today’s Santa Monica dog training session we went over how to train a dog to come to teach Marley that she should go to her guardian when called.

Marley is an incredibly low-key dog that is not very motivated. She does not demand attention and marches to the beat of her own drum. Because she is accustomed to doing whatever she wants, it will be SUPER important for her guardian to start building motivation for her dog to listen to her. If she doesnt help Marley feel a need to listen to her, its going to be difficult to get this dog to come when called.

I strongly suggested that her guardian start removing food after Marley walks away instead of leaving it in the bowl all day long. When a dog has too much access to something, it loses its value. Because Marley has so little motivation, this small step can help motivate her dog to want to listen to her.

I would like to see Marley‘s guardian dumping the Food Bowl empty after Marley walks away and then not providing food again until the next designated meal time. This will likely take a couple of days (possibly a week) before Marley recognizes that she better eat when her guardian provides the food, otherwise it will not be available for a couple more hours. Whoever blinks first looses here so her guardian needs to be consistent and determined.

I also went over how to use marker words and suggested the guardian start saying the marker then petting her any time Marley engages in a desired behavior like coming to her, giving eye contactm sitting or laying down. The more that we mark and reward desired actions, the more a dog will be inclined and motivated to offer them. This will also help motivate Marley to intersct with her guardian in these ways.

I also recommended that the guardian start asking Marley to sit or lay down before she pets her. If she asks the dog to sit and Marley doesn’t, she should go onto whatever it was she was doing. No punishment, but we’re not going to reward Marley for ignoring her guardians simple request anymore. I have found in many cases, guardians give the dogs so much attention or the things that they want that the dog takes the guardian for granted. I think that is a little bit of the case here.

While Marley was taking the treats that I was giving at times, other times she decided to do what she wanted to do. If you want to get a dog to do any activity, they have to be motivated to do so and they have to have respect for you as a leader. I don’t believe in punishing a dog for not following a cue, but I certainly don’t want to reward them for ignoring me either. I fear that Marley’s guardian is not going to get the results that she’s looking for if she continues to do things on Marley’s terms rather than creating some structure and a healthy leader follower dynamic.

How to train a dog to come when called

In addition to a big need to create motivation to listen to her guardian, there are a number of other tips to teach a dog to come when you call it.

One of the easiest ways to get a dog to come when you call them is to reward them when they do it on their own. I call this celebrating and recommended that the guardian start saying her marker word and petting Marley under her chin every time she comes to her without being asked to do so. When the guardian can recognize Marley is coming her way, she can add in the cue “c0me” before she arrives. This will help the dog practice coming when called.

Next we went outside so that I could share some tips on how to motivate a dog to come when it is called. Getting a dog to come to you when you call is all about repetiton and positive associations. If you have a dog that doesn’t like to come on command, you should definitely check out the free positive dog training video below.

The above video incorporates two exercises. The first is easy to accomplish with only one person. The second one is best done with at least three other people. This way you can have people take turns calling the dog rather than having the dog go to whoever it feels like going to.

Because the area was very confined, I accidentally bumped into a post and that seemed to affect Marley‘s confidence and reduced her motivation to want to participate. I promised the guardian I would link this positive dog training video on how to teach a dog to come when called from our puppy classes.

I’d like to see the guardian practicing the first part of the exercise three or more times a day in short 2 to 3 minute practice sessions. It will be important for the guardian to end on a good note so if she notices Marley is starting to lose attention or motivation, the next time she gets a good repetition she should stop there. This way the brightest memory that Marley has is of a successful repetition. You need to make coming to the person who calls the dog fun and rewarding, so ending on a high note is important.

But because of Marley‘s practiced habit of not listening to her guardian, it’ll be crucially important for her to ask the dog to do something before she pets and gives attention as well as reward Marley when she comes on her own (celebrating). These two things are very small, but will become very powerful and impactful if the guardian practices them on a regular basis.

To help the guardian remember all of the positive dog training tips we shared in this in-home Santa Monica dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr