Dog Training Basics: Here/Come
Train Your Hunting Dog to Return to Your Side
Even well trained dogs can get distracted and wander away from you. A hunting dog is required to stay close by, retrieve things when required and returning when called. Even if you aren’t training a bird dog, the ability to recall your canine when needed will allow him to be trusted when off the leash, making him a happier animal and you a more confident owner.
There are numerous ways to teach a dog to come when called, so it will be up to you to determine which is best. The one constant requisite, however, is patience. Training any animal requires repetition, and if you lose your patience, it will confuse the dog and inhibit his progress. So if you are patient, calm, and reward successes, you will be rewarded with a stellar hunting companion.
We will look at just one of many possibilities to train the recall command.
How to Train Recall/Come
- Find a spot she is used to for training – introducing new techniques to your dog is easiest if she is free from distractions and the additional stimuli of unfamiliar areas. Try using your back yard, or even in the house if you have space.
- Put your dog on his leash – while holding the leash, walk backwards and say “come” or “here” and keep walking backward until he catches up. Once he does, reward him with a treat and enthusiastic praise. Repeat this until you are sure he understands.
BONUS: Training with a leash in this manner will help him to behave better when on walks as well!
- Reward sporadically – when your dog is responding consistently to the command, only offer the treat when she returns to your side quickly. You will want to begin phasing out treats completely, but always be sure to enthusiastically praise her when she does it correctly.
- Increase the challenge – bring your dog to places in which he is unaccustomed and attempt the command. Increasing distractions is a good test for your dog, but be patient. If he is having trouble listening, reduce some of the challenging factors – start from a closer distance or on a leash, and re-introduce the treats as rewards.
What to Avoid While Training the Here/Come Command
Training the recall command comes with unique challenges, so you must be aware of your own behaviors and what they are teaching your dog. If she doesn’t respond to your command or is otherwise distracted, be sure not to be stern with her when she does eventually return to your side. This will give conflicting messages to your dog and will slow your training progress.
Once she learns the command, be aware of what you do after you give the command. If your command is often followed by something unpleasant like a bath, or anything else your dog doesn’t like, she may eventually choose to reject the command. You’ll never want your dog to associate the command with something she dreads. Keeping the associations positive will keep a happy pup by your side.