Pet Tip: Offer Positive Reinforcement When Your Dog Comes

The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) Door County Campus is temporarily “pawsing” adoptions while it houses many dogs from other shelters to assist those shelters as they work through an animal-health situation. WHS will resume regular adoption processes soon.

Until information about pets looking for new homes returns to this space, here are some tips for teaching your dog to come when you call.

If dogs ignore or avoid you when you call them, they’re not just being stubborn – it’s behavior they must be taught how to do, and they must associate it with positive things. If they’re told to come only when they’re being scolded or playtime in the yard is ending, they have no motivation to listen and may begin to perceive that command as a bad thing. The only reliable way to get a dog to come is to use routine, positive reinforcement. These tips should help:

• Practice “come” on a short leash in the house; then work up to a longer line, still inside your home.

• Every time your dog comes when called, reward him with praise, a favorite toy or a small treat.

• Your dog will be less likely to come next time if you punish her for not coming immediately, so be patient.

• Once your dog is responding reliably inside, go outside. Return to the  shorter leash; then work up to the longer line as your dog responds.

• Next, go to a park where there are distractions, again using the shorter leash and working up to the longer line.

• Call your dog when you know she will come – at mealtimes, for instance.

• Continue to reward your dog during training, and you should have a star pupil in no time!

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