How to train a dog to come when called.    A useful dog training tip.


By Dennis Fisher.


This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different  dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects.  All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites.   Visit the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or  if you interested in a breed   other than German Shepherd Dogs



Training your dog to come immediately you call is one of the most important and satisfying aspects of dog training. It can also be the most frustrating feature of training if you don’t approach the training process correctly.


A dog that returns to you immediately you call is a delight. A dog that carries on doing what it wants to and completely ignores your command can be a maddening experience.


How do you  make sure that you dog returns to quickly and willingly immediately you call?


As simple as the answer is, many people who have not had much experience training dogs find it surprisingly difficult.  The secret is to make the experience so pleasant for the dog that it comes to you with tremendous enthusiasm.


There are a number of ways this can be done.  The method I’m going to describe in this article is a basic method you can use if your dog has had virtually no training at all. Later in these series of dog training articles you will find slightly more advanced methods.


Go to a field, preferably one that is  fenced in some way, and have a friend accompany you.  Walk together on to the field  with your  friend and your dog on leash.   Then hand the leashed dog to your friend and run a distance away, about fifty years.


When you are about 50 yards away from your friend and  the  leashed dog, which will probably be straining to get to you, call the dog by name, clapping your hands enthusiastically and shouting out:   “ROGER COME!” as pleasantly and as excitedly as you can.


When the dog comes bounding towards you, make a tremendous fuss of the animal, expressing enthusiastic and extravagant praise.   Repeat this process a number of times.

The whole point of the exercise, obviously, is to make the dog WANT to come back to you. By your excited attitude you will make the dog extremely keen to come immediately you call.


The reward for the dog is your extravagant praise, repeating it’s name over and over accompanied with the “THAT’S A GOOD DOG!” as enthusiastically as you can.


Once you have done this a number of times on different occasions, you will have established the basic routine. At this stage of training no food reward is necessary.  Your enthusiastic praise is all that is necessary to encourage your dog to come quickly back to you.


As mentioned, this is the basic method to use where you dog has had very little training. In subsequent articles more advanced training methods will be set out.


The second way is also very simple, but it does require your dog to have had some leash training.  To get the dog to walk comfortably on heel it is necessary to use a suitable, linked training collar, and soft leather leash – or webbed lead.  The lead should be strong, but soft so that it will not unnecessary pressure on your hand.


After you have trained the dog for some time and have managed to have it walk pleasantly at heel on your left side, without straining or pulling ahead, start to introduce the ‘SIT” command.


This is a very simple exercise if you do it correctly.  There are two basic ways this can be done.  The first ways is with a tiny piece of  food that the dog likes – something different from the food you usually feed -  perhaps  piece of dried meat, or sausage or a piece of cheese.  


Walk with the dog at heel. Then stop and hold the tempting piece of food just above the dog’s head.  Encourage the dog to sit by tempting it with the tasty piece of food.  Once it does sit reward with the food.


The second way to encourage your dog to sit is shorten the leash, that you are holding in your right hand, and use your left hand to gently press down on the dog’s hindquarters.

Once the dog sits, praise enthusiastically.   You can, if you wish, reward the dog with a piece of food, but very often all that is necessary is generous praise.


Once you have managed to get the dog, while on leash, to sit immediately you command it to do so, you have introduce the SIT-STAY command.   While holding the leash in your left hand, tell the dog to STAY  and step away a few paces from the dog.   You can  extend your right hand, palm towards the dog, while giving this STAY command.


It may be necessary to practice this a few times before the dog realizes what is required.

When the dog has been trained to say without coming to you for a minute or so, you can return to the dog and praise enthusiastically.


After you have become fairly proficient in this exercise you can lengthen the time that the dog is required to sit without coming to you.   Once you are able to do this you go on to the next step.


Use a  long leash, or  a long piece of webbing and repeat the process of telling your dog to SIT and then STAY.   Step away from the dog – about  twenty paces – and then call the dog to you as pleasant  and as happily as you can.   When the dog comes to you, encourage it to sit in front of you by  holding a tempting piece of food at the height of your waist.


Before long the dog you will be able to lengthen the distance and the time  that you are able to leave the dog in the sitting position.   By rewarding the dog with a piece of food that it likes, the dog will come to you willingly to receive a double reward – the food and your extravagant praise.


Don’t forget to praise as happily as you can.


Quite soon you will have the pleasure of owning a  dog that will enjoy coming to you immediately you call