Why Won’t my Dog Come When Called?

This is without a doubt the question I get asked the most. The reason is really quite simple…

Once upon a time when they were tiny, you (or their previous owner) called that gorgeous, fun-loving, easy-to-get-along-with puppy to come to you and he did! The little furball came running pell-mell to you with his ears flapping, his tail wagging, and his tongue lolling to the side and what did you do? You picked him up and promptly put him in his crate and went out to dinner with the fam. Or, you went to work. Or, (do I dare say it) you took him to that mean ol’ vet!

Fast forward a few months and you call that obstinate, difficult, never-listens-to-me teenager to come to you and what does he do? He laughs at you! Sometimes you can even see the grin on his face. So, what do you do? Well, you chase him, of course, and we all know how well that worked out. Now you’re late for work, sweaty, and furious and that just makes matters worse.

So enough of my yakking. “How do I fix it?” you ask. Well, we go back to the basics. The two greatest words your dog should ever hear are “come” and his name. You HAVE to make it fun or else he will choose, every time, to ignore you and do what he wants.

Step-by-step it looks like this…Before you ever even call to him, you have a treat. Not a gaggy, dry PetsMart treat but something from the fridge like, chicken, bacon, a piece of last night’s steak, cheese. You get the picture. We only give human food to our dogs for two events: potty-training and teaching “come”. Now you are armed with the best treat your fridge has to offer and while you are standing in the kitchen and your boy is lying on the rug you say, “Max, COME!” You are holding out the treat and you have lots of love and excitement in your voice and he comes running to you and you’re shouting, “gooood boy, Max!” As you are giving him the treat with one hand, your other hand goes over his head, touches his collar, and releases it immediately. Your hand goes to his ears and give him a good ol’ scratch and then a kiss on the head and, most importantly, you say, “release!”

Here’s what Max learns: “when I hear my name and this funny word, all I have to do is run towards the treat! It’s an amazing treat and then I get my ears scratched, a kiss on my head and THEN I get to go right back to what I was doing before! There’s never a trick. When I hear my name and that word I get a treat every single time!”

I guarantee you can retrain your dog to come. Just be patient and have an arsenal of great leftover’s in the fridge. Personally, I buy a rotisserie chicken from CostCo and chop it into chunks and put a bag in the fridge and two or three bags in the freezer. It’s a great treat for $5.

Very soon you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood because you’ll have the only dog that comes when called! Good luck!! You’ve got this!! ~Cindy

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