How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called

A dog that doesn’t come when called is a prisoner of her leash and, if she gets loose, a danger to herself and others. Training your dog to come to you benefits everyone — including your dog, who can be safely let off leash in appropriate places when you’re confident she’ll come when called.

To train your dog to come to you, you need two people, one hungry dog, one six-foot leash, and plenty of small treats. If you prefer to train your dog to come to a whistle rather than the verbal command “Come,” you need two whistles as well. You can train your pup to come to both if you like.

Train your dog to come to a verbal command first, because there may be times when you need to call your dog but don’t have your whistle. You can then repeat the steps, using a whistle, which goes very quickly because your pooch already has some understanding of what she’s supposed to do.

For this exercise, you need to be inside the house, with your dog on a six-foot leash. You and your helper sit on the floor, six feet apart, facing each other, with your partner gently restraining the dog while you hold the end of the leash.

  1. Call your dog by saying her name and “come,” and use the leash to guide her to you.

    Avoid the temptation to reach for your dog.

    Training your dog to Come starts with a short distance at her level.

    Training your dog to Come starts with a short distance at her level.
  2. When your dog comes to you, put your hand through her collar, give her a treat, pet her, and praise her enthusiastically.

    You can and should pet your canine genius so that she understands how happy you are that she came to you. This situation is different from teaching your dog the Sit and Down commands, where you want her to remain in place, and petting her would cause her to get up.

  3. Hold your dog, and pass the leash to your helper, who says “Princess, come,” guides the dog in, puts her hand through the collar, gives her a treat, and praises the dog.

    Keep working on this exercise until your dog responds on her own to being called and no longer needs to be guided in with the leash.

  4. Repeat the exercise with your dog off leash, gradually increasing the distance between you and your helper to 12 feet.

  5. Have your helper hold your dog by the collar while you go into another room, and then call your dog.

  6. When your dog finds you, put your hand through the collar, give her a treat, and praise her.

    If she can’t find you, slowly go to her, take her by the collar, and bring her to the spot where you called. Reward and praise.

  7. Have your helper go into another room and then call the dog.

  8. Repeat the exercise until your doesn’t hesitate finding you or your partner in any room of the house.

Now you’re ready to practice by yourself. With your puppy on leash, take her for a walk. Let her sniff around, and when she isn’t paying any attention to you, call her. When she gets to you, give her a treat, and make a big fuss over her.

If she doesn’t come, firmly check her toward you (you may have to use the live ring of her training collar), and then reward and praise her. Repeat until she comes to you every time you call her. After your dog is trained, you don’t have to reward her with a treat every time, but do so randomly.