Can you give me some tips on teaching my shepherd mix
Zeus to come when I call him? So far, what Iím doing
Happy to, Jose. You didnít mention what youíve been
doing with Zeus, so Iíll list some general concepts
here for, you and readers in general to consider.
describe the recall, or teaching the come cue, as a
valuable behavior well worth the investment. Itís one
that is really important to have from the dog ownerís
perspective, and to have an excellent recall relies, in
part, on lots of practice.
my mind, the perfect recall looks like this: My dog is
off leash, at a distance from me, not looking in my
direction, and is interested in something in the
environment (a squirrel, another dog, a smelly bush,
etc.). When I say "Come!" the dog immediately
and joyfully turns and runs directly to me, ignoring
everything else in the environment. Thatís my goal
behavior, not a training scenario.
and probably most important is to recognize that in
order to be reliable, the act of coming to you must be a
pleasurable experience for Zeus, both when teaching it
and maintaining it. So itís important to know what
your dog finds highly rewarding. In my opinion, the very
best reward for a recall is an active one, so I engage
my dog in a game of Tug each time he comes when called.
For some dogs, hand play is just as rewarding, as is
high-in-value food, access to a squeaky toy, etc. Youíve
got to figure out at least two ways to highly reward
your dog when he comes to you, and that may require some
experimentation on your part.
word "Come" is not nearly as important as how
you say it. If you are quiet, monotone, scolding or
demanding in tone, it makes sense that your dog would
want to avoid you. So make sure your tone of voice is
positive and encouraging.
are attracted to motion, so you can use movement as an
incentive to come to you by calling your dog and running
away from him, encouraging him as you go. Most
importantly, when he responds and comes to you, the
reward should be massive and prolonged ó a true
celebration each and every time!
having a reliable off-leash recall is the goal behavior,
but it should be taught in increments. First on a short
leash and without distractions, so it is easy for the
dog to successfully come to you. Next on a long leash,
so you can work at a greater distance. Finally, working
on a long leash in a variety of distracting environments
to continue with the concept that coming to you will
always be more rewarding than whatever your dog can find
in the environment.
in mind that every time you call Zeus and reward him for
coming to you, youíre investing in his response the
next time you call him. So practice it often, and make
it fun and rewarding. Getting hooked up with a trainer
who teaches positively, without punishment, is of
particular value in obtaining a beautiful and reliable