This command is a necessity, both for the owner and for the dog, since it provides security and freedom which are both basic for a good relationship and coexistence, in addition to promoting the mutual well-being of both. The first thing we should try to identify is if your dog knows its name and associates it with something positive, we detail this further in the article skills and tricks.
We should bear in mind that the call to come is a learned behavior that we must incorporate into our communication code in a positive way, this is detailed further in the article How do dogs learn? We should never associate it with punishments or scolding since it would make it an unpleasant activity to develop and as such, these are generally avoided, once learned.
Something fundamental for the call to come to be effective is to guarantee a good bond, not only covering the needs of the dog but also providing it with great doses of respectful affection and play, hence fun for both parties. We will see that it is appropriate to bend down and motivate them to approach us by simply using their name, for example, inciting them to join in the game.
We will be able to teach the call to come by using a single word that we will pronounce both loudly and clearly after its name. Naming the dog will get its attention and once it is paying attention to us we can then ask it to come, otherwise the dog may well be entertained by other stimuli and therefore may not even listen to us (even if it is hearing us).
The steps are very simple and it is vitally important not to go on to any next phase without having successfully passed the previous one.
The call to come step by step
We should begin to work the call in a familiar and calm place, and the ideal place is to do it at home, where other smells and stimuli are not going to distract your dog. We should stand in front of the dog, say its name and subsequently when we look at ourselves we should say the chosen word, for example, Here! and then reward it with something appetizing or a toy and reinforce it with caresses.
The next step is to take a few steps away from the dog and repeat the operation, name plus call and when the dog travels that distance we will give it the prize and some pampering. As you perform the exercise freely, increase the distance and even place an obstacle in the way so that your dog will have to overcome it to reach you. Next, move to another room, and ask the dog to come when the dog is not being attentive toward us, there by increasing the difficulty.of the task.
By having worked the call to come at home we will have achieved several things, firstly, that the dog associates that specific word with something positive and fun, which also provides attention and social reinforcement and above all that the dog be aware that when we name it, we have something important for it to come.
Later we should begin to work the call in the street, with the dog preferably on a long leash, during the walk we say its name and then we call him, even taking a few steps back, when we arrive we will reward and caress the dog. This work should be done in situations with fewer to more stimuli progressively.
The exercise can be developed to be more complicated, with the help of another person who holds the dog, then we move away and call so that the intention to go to the dog increases, to finally let it go so it travels the distance in the shortest possible time without being distracted.
Never release a dog that does not have a firm call. We must also take special care with fearful dogs, in these cases it is highly recommended to release them with a long leash that makes it easier to catch them again if they run away when spooked.
Why doesn’t my dog come when I call it?
We explain some of the possible reasons why your dog does not come whenever you call, if you have in fact followed the previous steps:
- When there is a much greater stimulus than responding to the call, for example: a bitch in heat, a very exciting game, chasing another animal, eating something very appetizing, etc.
- When the emotional state is incompatible with paying enough attention to do what is being requested. Very fearful dogs can run away from a firecracker explosion and not come because they don’t even hear their owner.
- When you confuse the dog by adding many other words that it does not know to the call to come.. It is very common to say the dog’s name and then variations, for example: Toby, come, come on , quick, we´re late!
- If we make use of a poorly constructed and ineffective call to which the dog only responds adequately at times. N these cases it is up to us and our work to ensure that the call is well-constructed and effective.
- Repeated ineffective use of the word usually renders it to becoming an empty signal.
- When associating the call to something negative, this happens many times without our noticing, calling it to bathe or remove it from something it is enjoying, like interrupt its play or even rest.
- Sometimes the call becomes the word for the end of the walk and the sense of freedom offered by the walk.. To avoid this sensation, ask the dog to come several times during the walk, reward it, attach it to the lead and after a few seconds release it again.
- When the dog is physically distant hence making it very difficult for it to come as our valence is relinquished to the stimuli that physically surround it.
- Use of insufficient reinforcement. We cannot forget that every time the dog comes when we call, it is giving up doing what it´s freely doing at that moment. For this reason we have to reinforce it so that in addition to coming due to our bond, it is compensated by what we are offering. We can use very appetizing food, give it a lot of affection or a lot of play, adapting these to the needs and tastes of our dog.
- Now that we know some of the reasons that prevent it from responding to the call and based on our particular experience with our dog, we can avoid these situations or release the dog when we foresee these to avoid the danger that these can pose. Remember that we should never scold our dog when it comes and if our dog does not respond to the call, and we are faced with having to approach it to put it on the lead, the ideal method is to approach and attach it without further ado, taking it away from that stimulus.
We invite you to dedicate time and effort to work on this behavior, which will provide you with many advantages and will save you both a lot of trouble.
CANINE GREETINGS !!!