Training Your Dog to Come When Called

Livestock-guardian breeds like the Anatolian Shepherd Dog have been bred for centuries to work much of the time independently of man.

It comes as no surprise, then, that of all the dog-training commands, the recall command (“come”)—the most important obedience lesson of all—is the most difficult one to teach them.

First-time owners are often taken aback by the breed’s stubborn nature during training, saying things like, “When I tell my dog to ‘come,’ it is if I am speaking a foreign language.” We like to call it “selective hearing” (that is, the dog ignores commands).

Why is the “come” command so necessary? The goal in teaching the “come” command is to have a dog who will come to your side regardless of the situation, any situation where you, the owner, need to have control over your dog.

Teaching the “come” command can start as early as 7 to 8 weeks. When doing initial training, the “come” command should be the only command that uses the dog’s actual name. In the teaching process it can never be corrected for disobedience, which makes it one of the most frustrating commands to teach.

Regular practice of the command in different locations and with different distractions is essential. Once the recall is mastered (hopefully), you can protect your dog from a potentially dangerous situation or have your dog come to you obediently for some other necessary purpose.

Our female named Blaze was required to spend time in a kennel run (down a bank behind our house) when we were at work or off the property because of her penchant to escape the yard, especially after a rain when the ground was soft. After letting her out in the morning to get some exercise, we would then say to her, “Blaze, kennel.” She would run into her kennel run, sit down, and wait for us to walk down the bank and shut the gate.

One summer morning, just as I gave her the command and motioned with my hand for her to go to her kennel run, I was horrified to see a four-foot rattlesnake stretched out sunning itself right in front of Blaze’s kennel run. I immediately shouted, “Blaze, come!!”

Already halfway down the bank, Blaze stopped dead in her tracks, then turned to look at me as if to say, “Would you make up your mind?”

Thanks to her obedience training, Blaze made a quick U-turn and ran back up the bank and sat down at my side.

On that particular day, the “come” command probably saved her life.

If you live in an area where obedience classes are not available or are held an inconvenient distance away, there are some excellent articles on the Internet on the topic. You can search for “Teaching dogs the ‘come’ command,” and there are many articles that can take you step by step through the training process.

Owners should remember that using the recall or “come” command should become part of the dog’s routine as long as the owner only uses the command when there is a very good reason, especially in emergencies, and the owner is consistent in lavishly rewarding the dog for compliance.

It takes a lot of time and effort to get it right, but it is worth it knowing that you are helping to keep your dog happy and safe. —Marilyn Harned, Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America, January 2015 AKC Gazette

 

In the video below, Rick Pisani, CPDT-KA, of the Port Chester Obedience Training Club, and Disco, his Border Collie, demonstrate how to teach your dog to come when called.