Thursday, 23 September 2021
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Come command kaput?


So many clients ask me why their dog doesn’t come to them when called or¬†why¬†there’s a sudden decline in the dog’s response rate.

The dog’s response may¬†be more dependent upon word association than anything else. After all, think of¬†the number of¬†unpleasant experiences that tend to follow the command:

Come  away from that interesting smell on our walk.
Come  into the house I have to leave you alone to go to work.
Come  I need to put you in your crate for the night.
Come¬† into the vet’s office for that painful vaccination.
Come  away from chasing that squirrel.
Come I need to punish you for something you did.
Come¬† onto the groomer’s table for that painful toenail clip.
Come¬† away from that hole you’re digging in the garden, and so on.

It didn’t start out this way. Most puppies learned early in life that coming to¬†their owners¬†was jolly good fun. For example, what fun it was that exciting first week in¬†their new home when family members called¬†them¬†only for the purpose of receiving kisses, treats and petting.¬†But then something changed.¬†Owners began using the¬†recall only when they needed it … usually with a disappointing consequence.¬†

If you think this¬†may be responsible for your dog’s poor recall,¬†here are my top¬†tips that may improve¬†his/her reliability.

  • Change up the¬†name of the command, entirely.
  • Give¬†the new name a brand¬†new meaning … coming to you is fun!
  • Be sure to pair¬†it¬†with lots of fun, rewarding experiences so¬†it becomes synonymous with game-on!
  • Use the recall most¬†frequently¬†when you don’t need it.
  • Use it sparingly when it is¬†needed,¬†and¬†be¬†certain to follow it up with a super rewarding experience.
  • Make¬†it a positive experience every time.
  • Be more fun than your dog’s biggest distraction. If you have to act like a clown to get your dog’s attention, then do so!¬†

By following some of these tips you may be able to improve upon the reliability of your dog’s recall¬†as well as train in¬†one that’s associated with more positive experiences.

Karen Fazio, CDBC is the owner of The Dog Super Nanny professional dog training and is the Director of Behavior at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital in Monmouth County, NJ. She may be reached at 732-533-9376 or


The Bark Box

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