We’ve all seen that viral video of Fenton chasing the deer, right? Absolutely no one wants to be that guy! If the thought of your pup running off is keeping you, and your four legged friend, locked up behind closed doors, then you’re in the right place. But just how do we teach a puppy to come? This article will ease all of your worries and cover 

  • Why it’s important to teach your puppy to come back when you call them. 
  • How you get your puppy to come.
  • Our top tips and tricks for getting your puppy back to you. 

So panic no more, let’s get cracking…

A reliable recall is one of the most important things you’ll teach your puppy. Well ok, toilet training, and coping on their own is pretty important for your puppy to learn too. Anyway, we have a full recall programme, aka how to teach a puppy to come, in our Zigzag puppy training app. We also have a team of puppy coaches on hand to help you with any problems you have when getting your puppy to come when called. In fact, they’ll help you with any and all puppy behaviours you see which you think might be a problem or cause you concern. 

golden retriever laying on gravel beach
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Why is it important to teach your puppy to come?

Teaching your puppy to come when called is so important because it keeps your puppy safe. You want to go for lovely walks where you can let your puppy off lead, but if you can’t reliably ask them to come back, then it’s not safe for them to be free and running around, is it? 

Even if you never intend to let your dog off the lead, you’ll still want to train how to teach a puppy to come, or come with you when you call them. We think it’s an essential life skill. 

5 easy steps for teaching your puppy to come

In order to teach a puppy to come you need to teach your puppy that coming to you brings about huge rewards.

It’s also a good idea, to teach your puppy their name first, so that you can get their attention, in fact it’s the first step really in how to teach a puppy to come, so have a read of that if you haven’t taught it already.

Find a reward that your puppy really likes – high value treats include chicken, tiny pieces of sausage or some lactose free cheese. 

  1. Pop some food on their nose and then take a few steps backwards (with the treat in hand)
  2. Say ‘good’ and give the treat to your puppy
  3. Take a step back, show your puppy you have the food then take a few more steps backwards, if your puppy is coming with you say ‘good’ and give them the treat.
  4. Repeat this one more time with a bit more distance between you and your puppy – make a sweeping motion with your arm, as if you’re gesturing your puppy in – did your puppy come?

    Excellent, you’ve completed the first stage in how to teach a puppy to come!
  5. You’ll now want to do the same motion without food in your hand. Your puppy learns visually really well, so that sweeping motion will become a hand signal for coming to you. Reward them with a treat and they’ll do it more and more. 

Want to up the difficulty?  Download the Zigzag puppy app today and we’ll teach you through a structured programme of the steps involved in getting a puppy to come, reliably! 

golden retriever puppy running on path
Photo by Andrew Schultz on Unsplash

Best tips and tricks for successfully teaching your puppy to come

There are lots of easy things you can do to improve your puppy’s recall, and make sure that teaching a puppy to come is a fun thing for both you and your puppy to do. 

Make yourself the BEST thing in the park

Taking your puppy to the park and then letting them go free range and self-employed is asking for your puppy to ignore you. Instead, play games, practice some training, and keep your puppy engaged. You’ll become more interesting to them, and they’ll listen to you, and come back more!

Get a special toy to reward a puppy for coming back when called

Fluffy squeaky tug toys or kong squeaky tennis balls are an excellent choice to get your puppy interested in coming back to you, and a fantastic reward when they get there. 

Turn teaching your puppy to come into a game

Play tennis with your puppy as the ball and have a friend and you ping-ponging the puppy between you. Your pup will love this!

Don’t call your puppy for ‘bad’ things only nice things

Calling your puppy to clip their nails, bath them, or tell them off is not going to help when you’re trying to teach a puppy to come. Trust us it will make them not want to come to you. Don’t do it! 

Use a funny tone of voice for recall training

Another great tip for how to teach a puppy to come, is to use a happy, light and exciting tone of voice. It will build enthusiasm and motivation in your puppy. I know it might feel a bit silly, but puppies LOVE it when we’re silly, so let go and just have fun.

person holding treat to dogs nose
Photo by Jennifer Latuperisa-Andresen on Unsplash

How to incorporate it into a daily routine?

To teach a puppy to come, you’ll want to practice often, so that it really sets in their mind what you’re asking them to do. 

There are a few other ways you can teach them a strong recall in day to day life:

  • Take some of your puppy’s daily rations out of their food allowance and practice recalls before meals.
  • Call your puppy for their meals, this is always going to be something they’re excited about!
  • Start praising your puppy as soon as they’re coming towards you.
  • Turn recalls into a game – a moving target will be fun to chase rather than if you’re just standing still.
  • Load up with treats and practise teaching your puppy to come on walks – even if they’re on the lead, you can take a few steps backwards and teach them that coming with you is something worth doing. 
  • Set up a puppy day to day routine so that you can prioritise training them. They will love you all the more for it. Learning is fun for puppies!

Did you hear us say how fun puppies find learning? With the Zigzag puppy training app we’ll take you and your puppy on a training journey. They’ll learn all of the fun things like becoming confident around different noises and investigating surfaces, how to cope with being on their own, life skills and so much more. You’ll also have access to a team of expert puppy coaches, to help you with whatever twists and turns life with your puppy takes you on.