Being able to let your dog off the lead safe in the knowledge that they will return to you is always a nice feeling. The dog makes the most of their walk and you get to see them explore and investigate whatever excites them.
Training a dog to come back when off the lead can be very difficult, but it is not impossible. Every dog will have its good days and its bad days, and sometimes your dog might just decide that he’d rather do something else.
An exciting dog walk is the ideal time to put all that training into practice
Always reward him with a treat and lots of praise and attention when he returns to you. If you can do this every time, your dog will quickly learn that when he returns he will be given a treat, so why would he not bother coming back?
Dogs are extremely perceptive to sounds, so make sure that your command to come back is clear so that your dog understands what you want him to do, and try not to call him back with a panicky voice - the excited voice you use for congratulating him is much more effective.
A perfectly trained Bernese mountain dog at a show
- Stretch both of your arms out in front of you at about waist height and call your dog’s name.
- Once you have his attention, kneel down so that you are on his level and bring your arms into your chest, while using the verbal command “Come”.
- When he returns to you, immediately reward him with a treat and lots of praise and then make him sit. Once he sits you can encourage him to leave when he wants.
- Keep practicing this in the garden or secure area until you feel more confident.
- Remember to never run after your dog if he decides to wander off. He will assume that you are playing a game and he will continue to run. Sometimes, running in the opposite direction while calling your dog will make him turn and follow you! Follow the three steps above and remain confident. You must have trust in your dog to come back, but you must also be authoritative.