Dogs have choices
We all have choices, and this includes our dogs. The choice to ignore you when calling can be most frustrating, especially when it happens at the most inopportune times.
Times when you’re in a hurry and your dog has decided that it would be more fun to be chased, it’s freezing outside, but Rover is preferring to stay outside. Finally, you manage to corral him only to realize the kids just let him out the front door for a neighborhood excursion.
As frustrating as dogs can be at times, they are thinking feeling animals who are constantly making choices. When you train using positive reinforcement you tip the odds in your favor that your dog will make choices that you prefer.
What was the consequence for coming when called? Did Rover receive his favorite toy, or perhaps his favorite treat? Or did it result in the loss of play with his best friend? Does coming when called produce a few rounds of fetch, or does it result in confinement to the crate?
In each of these circumstances the results of coming to you either produced reinforcement or punishment. Ask yourself what consequence is your dog most likely to respond to?
Teaching your dog to come when called is all about motivation. Dogs don’t work for free, and being the most charming person doesn’t guarantee Rover will come when called. Neither will the forceful “because I said so” approach.
Motivation is what a dog needs to do behavior that you ask for. In other words, when you pay for desirable behavior with something your dog desires you are motivating and increasing the likelihood it will be repeated.
There are many options for rewards, this could include tasty treats, toys for a quick game of tug or fetch, car rides to the park, ear, or butt scratches, even chasing a squirrel up a tree.
Repeated often and consistently using your dog’s favorite rewards makes it worthwhile for Rover to come when called.