If your otherwise awesome dog doesn’t come when called, it can put him at risk. I am the proud owner of two chocolate labs with very different personalities. Luke comes obediently when called, tends to follow at my heels and rarely runs off. Meanwhile, my lovely Jake is a great dog, until a rabbit, squirrel or just about anything else passes by.
Fortunately, I was able to figure out how to train my excitable four-legger to come when called. Keep reading to learn effective methods to teach your dog to come using a long leash or a long leash with a vibration collar.
To train your dog to come, first invest in a long training leash measuring 20 feet. The long line gives you control if your dog gets distracted or wanders off. However, it also provides ample space to train from varying distances without confining him too much.
For this technique, you’ll need the help of a patient assistant your dog knows. Once the behavior is learned, your dog will simply come when called.
NOTE: Doggie treats are fine for this exercise, unless your dog already has some pudge. Jake responds just as well to regular dog food or a hug.
The pros of this method include positive reinforcement that helps you bond with your dog and a pretty universal success rate if done consistently. On the con side, it might be hard to find a good assistant patient enough to sit through multiple iterations of the exercise. Using high-calorie doggie treats can increase your dog’s weight.
If you have an active dog that resists commands in favor of doing her own thing, adding a vibration collar to the training might help. Vibration collars set to low intensity can be a valuable part of your training regimen and do not harm your pup. In fact, they can be an integral part of teaching your dog behaviors that keep her safe.
Here’s how it works. When you use a vibration collar, your dog first gets a quick alert vibration. This should trigger her to begin the behavior. If needed, you can send a second vibration if she doesn’t respond. You’re mostly following the method above, with a few modifications.
It’s important to pair this training with positive reinforcement. You can use voice (“Good girl!”), tactile feedback (pet or pat, positive touch) and food to show the correct behavior has been achieved.
On the con side, vibration collars used off-leash or over long distances aren’t likely to be immediately effective. Your dog will take longer to associate the vibration with the command over distance. Escalating the intensity of the vibration collar isn’t likely to do much beyond frighten your dog. In the pros column, adding a vibration collar to your training can be helpful with hyper, easily distracted dogs as well as for blind or deaf dogs.