Training Tip: Come When Called

December 1, 2014


One of the most important cues you will teach your dog is “come”.


A reliable recall will be useful in many ways and should be practiced frequently. An important element to the recall command is trust. This means never punishing or yelling at your dog when they come to you. If you call your dog to come, only to punish him when he reaches you, it will teach your dog not to trust you. Any redirection of undesired behavior should be delivered at the location of the behavior – meaning, if your dog is chewing on a shoe, get up and go to where he is chewing to reprimand and redirect.

Training for this command should start with your dog on a leash (for safety and increased chances of success). Let your dog wander to the end of the leash and call their name: “Buster!”. Quickly move a few steps backwards and as your dog starts to move in your direction, give verbal praise and hold a treat in front of you as a reward. Repeat this process until your dog is reliably coming to you.

When your dog is consistently coming when you call, you can add the verbal cue “Fido, come”  Fido comes to you, offer verbal praise and deliver a food treat. It is also a good idea at this point to add in touching your dog’s collar once your dog comes to you. This will help eliminate the game where your dog comes to you and then dashes away before you can hold their collar.

When adding the collar touch/hold, start with slow movements as it may seem scary and threatening for some dogs at first to have you grab at their collar after they come. Some owners also like to add an additional command such as “Free” when they let go of the collar and their dog is allowed to go back to sniffing or running freely. You can also start adding length to the leash, practicing in a safe, controlled area, and adding distractions (other dogs, etc.) to further solidify recall for your dog no matter what the situation is.

  • Remember to use amazing, yummy treats. Hot dog, cheese, chicken, etc. You want a high quality reward that your dog will work hard for.
  • Rewards must be given QUICKLY (within 3 seconds) in order for your puppy to associate the command with a reward.
  • Remember to ALWAYS praise your dog for coming to you, never punish. If at first your puppy won’t respond, use a different sound such as a tongue click, or a whistle to get their attention another way. If you keep saying “come” over and over again without success, your dog will learn to ignore you.
  • Practice OFTEN. Even after your dog has mastered these tools, you need to have “refreshers” and make sure you are using the commands in order to keep your dog adept at them.
  • To further encourage sit and down behaviors, you can implement “free shaping”. This is where you simply wait for the behavior to happen during everyday life and reinforce it with a small food treat and verbal praise. You can even say the cue word when you catch them doing it. For example, you’re watching TV and Fido walks over you to, you can say “good come Fido!” and give a reward. Make sure the reward is given only if they are demonstrating the desired behavior.


Like this Tip?  Check out the rest of our Training Tips here!  If this video worked for you, please let us know.  We always love to hear a good success story!  

As always, the staff at Chase Farm Veterinary Hospital is available to answer your questions…just ask for our puppy class technicians (Alissa and Kat).

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