Teaching Your Rottweiler to Come When Called

There's a lot to do when you bring a new rottweiler into your home, but one of the first things you need to do is teach him recall. This means, teaching him to come to you when you call him. When other tricks and commands may be showier, recall is by far one of the most important skills for your dog to learn.

Why Recall is Important

Teaching your rotty to come when called is quite possibly the most important of all commands. A dog who doesn't know recall can't be trusted to be let off the lead on walks, even if you're in a safe, enclosed area. Your dog needs to be able to come back to you on request, in case there's a potential danger or you see an unknown dog. Even if you know your pooch is well-socialized and super friendly, you can't be certain if the other dog is.

What's in a Name

Before you get started on recall, you have to make sure that your dog knows his own name. This might seem silly, but we talk all the time to or around our dogs, so sometimes their own name can just get lost in the jumble of words. When you're sitting or standing near your dog in the home, say his name in a happy, clear tone and wait for him to look in your direction. When he does, fuss him and give him a treat. Keep doing this regularly and he will understand that when you say his name, you want his attention.

Choose a Command

You need to pick out a recall command that will tell your rottweiler you want him to come. Some people choose the command “come” or “here,” whereas others name simply call their dog's name. You can also choose to use your pup's name followed by the command. His name will get his attention and then the command will tell him to come back to you.

Where to Start

When your begin your training, you should always do so in a secure location. A fully fenced-in yard is ideal, but you could also start indoors. Call him using your chosen command and hold out a treat to him to encourage him over. When he gets to use, praise him and give him a treat. If you have trouble getting him to come to you, try using an extra tasty treat; something that your dog loves, but doesn't get to have often.

Positive Reinforcement

You should always use positive reinforcement methods when teaching recall to your rottweiler. Not only is it a humane way of training your dog, it's also more effective. If your dog learns that we he comes to you he gets some sort of reward, then of course he's going to want to come when you call him. Start off by giving him a treat, in conjunction with lots of praise, every time he comes to you. Make sure you work on your tone, keeping your voice happy and excited, so that he knows he's done good. After a while, stop giving him a treat every time, but start to switch between food rewards, praise, petting and play with a favorite toy.

If At First You Don't Succeed...

It's important to keep trying when teaching your rotty to come when called. It can require some trial and error, so perseverance is key. Only give your dog the recall command once or twice, if you keep repeating it, the words will lose meaning to your dog. If he doesn't come to you, go over to where he is, take him by the collar, and calmly lead him to where you were calling from, then let him free and start again. When he begins moving in your direction, encourage him by cheering him on, calling out “good boy,” or patting your hands against your thighs. 

Tips for the Real World

It's all very well teaching your dog to come at home, but out on walks things get a bit more tricky. There are more distractions and your rottweiler might not always have perfect recall. It's vital that you keep things positive and don't shout at or punish your dog for not coming to you right away. Even if he ran off, completely ignored you and didn't come back for half an hour, you still have to praise him when does return to you. If you tell him off when he comes back, he'll think he's being punished for returning, not that you're angry because he ran off. Should you get into a sticky situation, remember that your dog isn't superhuman (or supercanine, as the case may be) and can easily get distracted, even if his recall is usually amazing. If he starts to run toward danger, the best thing you can do is run in the opposite direction, calling him to you. This might sound strange, but if you run toward your dog, he'll run away even faster, but run away from him and he'll likely chase you, thinking that you're playing a fun game.  

Photo credit: Joaquim Procopio/Flickr