What’s one of the biggest reasons dogs don’t come when called?
Believe it or not, it’s because we often accidentally punish them for coming!
You call the dog to come inside from the garden (super interesting and full of great smells, pretty much doggie Disneyland). He comes inside (where it’s super boring and the smells are staler than the Top of the Pops hits of 1990) and you shut the door. You may even go out and leave him alone!
So … where’s the reward?
Surely he didn’t just drop everything he was doing and leave doggie Disneyland for you for this? Bummer!
He just got accidentally punished.
The same thing can happen if we call our dog and crate him, or call our dog and then trim his nails, or call him and then put his leash on him after he’s had a bunch of freedom. Anything our dog doesn’t like has the potential to be punishing if we do it when he’s expecting a reward.
But don’t worry – you can keep a great recall by making sure you reward him WAY more often than these negative things happen to him. Whenever he comes back to you (or even looks at you when you call) do this:
- be over-enthusiastic with your praise. Your praise should be something like this: “Good girl/boy, you’re amazing, come back, you’re wonderful, we’re having a party here, do you want to join us?”
- always (100% of the time) reward the decision to come back to you. Give them a treat. And sometimes that treat should be a toy or a good game of tug. That’s even more fun for dogs and they’ll remember the fun the next time they are making the decision to come back to you.
- touch your dog’s collar when they return to you. Even if you may not want to put the lead on, your dog gets used to you touching the collar. And then the next time you call them back to go home, they won’t run away as soon as you go to touch the collar.