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Why Won't My Dog Come When I Call Him?

Have you ever trained your dog to come when called, and then when you call him, he completely ignores you?  You are not alone! 


There are many reasons why your pup is not responding to your command.

  • More training is needed.  Your dog might not be ready to be off the leash in wide, open spaces and needs more systematic training.  Go back to the basics and try again.

  • Competing reinforcers. Your dog might be perfectly well-trained to come to you when you call him, but other creatures & people can win in the competition for your dog’s attention.  It is important for you to know your dog, and that includes knowing when you need to leave the leash on.

  • No reinforcement. When you call your dog and he comes to you, it is important to reward him.  No reinforcement leads your dog to not wanting to come to you.  You can use a food treat or plenty of praise.

  • Not understanding the dog’s needs. Sometimes your dog will not come when called because you are rushing him.  He may need to run, sniff around a bit, or search longer for a good bathroom break spot.


Puppies expect to be "paid" for good behavior.  Praise in a happy voice and small treats are the best form of reward for good behavior.

Start by teaching your puppy his/her name.  By 4 months, they should know sit, down, come, go out, and wait/stay.  Be consistent & patient and reward good behavior.  Training for a few minutes (5-15) several times a day is better than a longer training session. 

Based on information supplied by The American Kennel Club, Inc. by Mary Burch, Ph.D. & Certified Animal Behaviorist

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