Your Dog Training Questions: How Can I Make My Dog Come Back On Command?

Today I’m answering a question from my Facebook page from Shawn Hiter about calling your dog back to you in any environment, at any time. A good recall (the “come” command) can keep your dog safe and maybe even save your dog’s life.

Shawn’s Question:

Jim,

I took my dog to the beach for the first time. I let her off leash and she did really well, chased a few birds but came right back to my quick whistle.

We did this for 10-15 minutes and then suddenly, for no reason, she dashed off and would not respond to the whistle.

Nothing scared her, she just didn’t want to come. I chased her down, thank God, no accident or anyting, but it took 50 years off my life.

Should I do repeat exercises using longer leash? Any other suggestions for ensuring she returns on command?

My Answer:

You definitely want to work her on a long line and IN that environment. Someone once asked me, “How do I know my dog has learned the come command?” Here’s my reply: “If you can take your dog to 5 different locations and do 5 recalls (come command) successfully on line, then your dog has a good understanding of the come command on line.”

The same thing would apply to an off-leash recall or come command. I use lighter lines (a parachute cord) to build up to off-leash discipline before actually taking my dog off the leash to prevent exactly what happened to you.

Remember, dogs don’t generalize too well. Practicing in your neighborhood and/or parks is NOT the same at the beach. Leadership plays an important role. Whether or not you’ve associated something negative with the come command may also play a role in your dog’s hesitation or failure to come. Example: Your dog may think: “If coming to you means the end of having fun, I’ll have to think about it!”

Good luck on your training.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010
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