Puppy School Lesson Four
Teaching your Puppy to Come When Called
Very young puppies tend to follow their people around and it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that this will continue forever. Sooner or later you’ll take your puppy for walks somewhere with many interesting distractions and for the safety and sanity of all concerned it helps if you’re confident your puppy will come back.
So how to get started
Especially while your puppy is young, they’ll probably stay fairly close to you on walks and will return to you regularly for reassurance. Take advantage of this, and encourage them to turn this into a habit for life. Whenever you see your pup coming towards you of his own free will, call his name and 'come' and reward them with praise, and a game or food treat when they reach you. Let them go away again, saying 'good boy, go play' or similar, to continue the game, after all it's no fun coming back if you just get put straight on the lead every time.
Many dogs are never allowed to run free as their owners are afraid they’ll not come back when called. This is very frustrating for a dog and makes it difficult for them to express normal canine behaviours.
Your puppy will be eager to return to you if you make sure that you are the most exciting thing around. This is very easy in the house with no major distractions but can be a little more difficult in the park where there are other dogs to play with, or even at puppy playgroup.
Enhancing your puppy appeal may involve treats, toys and your voice. Remember your puppy’s line of focus is low to the ground, so don't be afraid to get down to their level, bend or kneel down and tap the floor, shake a toy or clap your hands. As with any training exercise, always gain the puppy's attention before giving any command. Have their interest fully focused on you and, once you’re sure they’re coming towards you call their name and the command word 'come'.
Lots of praise is needed every time your puppy comes to you, even when you haven’t called them. If your puppy becomes distracted before they reach you, back away from them, making lots of exciting noises to attract their attention. Don’t be tempted to go after them, this will only turn into a terrific (for your puppy) chasing game and they’ll probably win. Always praise your puppy when they come to you, no matter how long it takes. Have your puppy come close enough to you that you can touch their collar, as this will be helpful in the future when you need then to come back and have their lead put on and, offer a reward as you do so.