When you teach a dog to come, you are taking steps to create a well-behaved dog. You also increase the dog’s chances of staying safe in dangerous situations.
So many fewer dogs would be surrendered or hit by cars if they had dog recall training. But, when you are training a puppy to come, you could accidentally be messing up his training.
Read on to learn what you should not do when you train a dog to come.
How Not to Teach a Dog to Come
There are a variety of methods out there for how to teach your dog to come. As you work with your dog’s personality, you will quickly be able to figure out the best training method for your pup.
Yet, even with the right training program in place, you could be setting yourself up for failure by unknowingly doing things that confuse, or annoy your dog. Or worse, you may be inadvertently rewarding the wrong bamnehavior.
Here are the top things to make sure you don’t do when you are training a puppy to come.
1. Failing to Proof Behaviors
Great! You can get your pup to sit in the living room each time you say the cue word. Well done.
But don’t expect your dog to listen to your cue at a dog park!
One of the most common dog training mistakes is failing to proof the behavior. Proofing means that you practice in various settings with various distractions.
But don’t go from the living room to open field full of squirrels. Slowly increase the number of distractions for your dog. This will teach your dog to always respond to your cues, no matter what.
2. Not Training Often Enough
Many people think once their dog has mastered a skill, they can forget about it. But that will cause your dog’s response times for important behaviors to worsen due to a lack of practice.
Make sure you are working on your dog’s behaviors randomly and regularly. Ideally, you want to train your dog for several mini sessions several times a day.
Have your dog “sit” before you lay down the food bowl, “stay” while you open the front door and so on.
Each month, you should teach a new behavior (or trick). This will keep your dog’s mind sharp and keep your pup motivated to learn. Read dog articles to learn how to teach the skills you want then carve out time each day to work on them.
3. You Repeat Commands
“Come! Come! COME! Come here!” If this sounds like you, you are teaching your dog to stall before responding.
That is a learned habit that is no good. You want to stop doing this immediately.
Often, if your dog doesn’t respond right away it is because the behavior hasn’t been fully proofed.
Once you are sure a dog knows a behavior, ask only once! If Fido ignores you, it’s either because you haven’t taught it properly, or the dog is distracted or simply rebellious.
If that happens, bring Sparky to a quiet spot and ask again. If that doesn’t work, you need to back up and start with the basics again and re-teach the behavior. This time, teach it correctly and never ask multiple times.
New dog owners or owners with difficult dogs sometimes lack the confidence to see training all the way through.
Varying the techniques you use to train your dog will diminish your dog’s ability to learn. If you are patient one day, lose your cool the next and then give an overload of treats and rewards the next day, your dog will understandably be confused.
Unpredictability breaks confidence and trust. So, be consistent. Set rules and stick to them.
5. Reinforcing the Wrong Behavior
When you want to teach a dog to come, you might accidentally be reinforcing undesirable behaviors.
Let’s say you speak sternly to your dog when he misbehaves, let him in the house when he barks, or comfort him when he is frightened. All these things may seem logical, but what you are doing is giving negative attention.
Just like kids, they just want attention and will take negative attention over no attention.
Giving attention of any kind can tell your dog that his current behavior is good and should continue.
6. Your Training Sessions Are Too Long
It will take several training sessions for dog recall training. It’s a process. But you can take a few steps back if you overtax your dog in endless training.
Each training session should be positive. As soon as you get some level of success in a training session, reward and move on. Otherwise, your dog will be bored and may become disinterested in learning that behavior.
Short sessions, multiple times a day are best.
7. Overusing Treats
Treats are a great tool to help you teach a dog to come when called. After all, you want your dog to think that following your command is fun, not punishment.
Yet, treats should be used when you initiate a behavior or to reinforce that behavior intermittently later on.
Relying on treats for every little thing can work against your dog recall. In fact, your dog can become fixated on the food instead of on the important skill you want her to learn.
So, once Max learns the behavior, replace treats with praise, play, toys or whatever else he likes. Once in a while, give an unpredictable treat. But remember that you can ‘treat’ your dog with your voice and with petting, playing and other non-food items.
Start Again and Do it Right
If you’ve been making all 7 of these common mistakes, don’t worry.
The good thing about when you teach a dog to come is that you can start again and do it right. By being consistent, training daily for short intervals, avoiding rewarding negative behavior, and proofing each skill, you will soon have a pup that will bound to you each time you call.
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