How To Train a Golden Retriever To Come When Called

Updated September 19, 2023

Some dog commands are optional, but every owner should know how to train a golden retriever to come.

“Come” could be the most important command to teach a golden retriever because of the breed’s curious, active nature.

Imagine that you’ve just returned home after a trip for groceries. You have a dozen bags and can’t do anything as your dog rushes on the road with heavy traffic after its ball.

Or, assume that you’ve let your dog freely explore its surroundings at a local park when it encounters an aggressive dog. A simple “come” could prevent an accident or confrontation in both cases.

The good news is that “come” is also one of the easiest commands to teach a golden retriever, given this breed’s friendly, affectionate temperament.

When To Begin The Training?

The best time to train a golden retriever, in general, is when it’s still a puppy, but not until it reaches eight weeks old.

A puppy’s attention span is significantly shorter than an adult dog’s, so a young puppy is unlikely to show great results.

Furthermore, puppies are naturally inclined to follow their owners wherever they go, so why not take advantage of this habit? You may have to put in more effort to make your puppy leave you alone than to train it to come.

The fact that golden retrievers are the most responsive to training in puppyhood doesn’t mean that you can’t teach an adult dog to follow your commands, though. Golden retrievers will happily run towards the owner when called at any age.

However, training an adult dog requires more dedication and patience because its personality and habits are already formed.

Set Your Dog Up For Success

Inexperienced dog owners often set their pets up for failure without realizing it. For your efforts to show results, set your dog up for success before you start the training.

Assume that your puppy is playing with its favorite toy off the leash. If you call it to put a leash on it, it will hesitate because it knows that the fun will be over as soon as it approaches you.

Instead, train your puppy when it’s already on the leash or when there are no distractions. Your home or garden is the perfect place for training because public areas are full of novelties that will attract your pup’s attention.

Another tip is to spend quality time walking your dog on the leash, exploring new places to create positive associations with the process.

Don’t attempt to train your dog when its basic needs aren’t fulfilled. If your dog is full of energy and wants to run or is hungry, it won’t care about your commands.

Lastly, don’t use the “come” command for something your dog finds objectionable. If you often use the order before nail trimming, giving your dog medicine, or punishing it, it will be hesitant to respond to it in the future.

Early Training Stage

Assuming you’ve picked the right moment and place to train your golden retriever, your first step should be getting your puppy to come to you.

Fortunately, making your dog come to you isn’t at all complicated. Embrace informal training – say “come” whenever your puppy already runs towards you to get your dog used to the command word.

Praise your puppy when it comes to you as you would in a formal training session. Continue doing so until you become less of a novelty for your pet.

Formal Training Stage

When your puppy gets used to you, you can start formal training. Have your puppy sit and back away from it. If your dog refuses to sit still, which is very likely, have someone hold it or entertain it with something.

Then, tell your dog “come” in a friendly and loud voice while holding a treat in your hand, ensuring your pup can see it. However, an enthusiastic golden retriever puppy may not need extra motivation to come to you.

When your dog comes to you, give it a treat as a reward and praise it. Positive reinforcement will help your dog build positive associations with the action, and it will be more willing to come to you in the future, even without a reward.

If something distracts your puppy along the way, cease the praise. Offer your puppy the reward once it goes back in your direction.

Don’t rush the training. Once your dog can come to you without getting distracted several times in a row in a familiar environment, you can bring it outside to a public park.

The great outdoors offers numerous amusing distractions, so it may seem like your training efforts were useless at first. However, your dog should learn to respond to your commands equally well in public places as in the home environment.

Start by training your puppy to come when it’s on the leash. This way, you will minimize the risks of your puppy encountering an unfriendly dog or running after a bicycle and encourage good leash etiquette.

When your puppy is obedient enough, you can try to practice the command without a leash.

Teach Your Dog The Word “Come”

Your goal is to teach your dog to respond to commands without rewards. To achieve this, you must teach your golden retriever the word “come” and build links between the command and a positive outcome.

Be consistent with your training. Don’t forget to say “come” firmly every time you call your puppy. If you sometimes use the command and sometimes a different word or simply call your dog’s name, it wouldn’t learn what “come” means.

Clicker Training

Clicker training is an effective approach to golden retriever training. Dog clickers are tiny plastic devices sold in nearly any pet store and online. They have a button and make a distinct clicking sound when it’s pressed.

Whenever your dog obeys your commands, click the button and reward your dog. Audible reinforcement speeds up the training, helping your dog memorize the commands.

Instead of a clicker, you may use a moderately loud hand clap or make any other distinct sound, but ensure that it doesn’t scare your dog.

The downturn of using claps or other sounds is that they don’t sound the same every time. The success of clicker training a golden retriever largely depends on timing and consistency.

Practice & Games

Apart from basic training, help your puppy memorize the command quicker in an interactive way. Use the short leash method to train a golden retriever puppy to come.

Attach a leash to your puppy’s collar – it should be about six feet long. Holding the end of the leash, tell your puppy to come to you, but instead of staying in place, quickly move backward.

Continue moving backward until your golden retriever catches up. Be careful not to draw it out too long because your puppy may get frustrated, which will worsen your training results.

Once your dog reaches you, give it praise and a treat. This golden retriever training method is also a fun exercise, both for your puppy and for you.

Another way to teach a golden retriever the “come” command is the long leash method. The leash should be 20-30 feet long. Choose a safe, preferably fenced environment.

Ask someone to help hold your golden retriever in place, standing at your dog’s rear. Then, show your puppy a treat, holding it right near its nose, and run away as far as you can while the assistant is keeping your dog.

Tell your dog to come, but don’t repeat the command. Your puppy should know it has only one chance to get it correct. When your puppy runs towards you, give it the deserved treat.

When your puppy has mastered the long leash training method, incorporate intentional distractions into your training routine.

Why would anyone complicate things for their dog, you may wonder? That’s the whole purpose of training – your dog should obey your commands no matter what.

Continue to do the long leash training, but ask someone to act as a distraction. Your assistant may play with a ball within the dog’s vision, walk with their dog (assuming it’s well-trained), or eat your puppy’s favorite food.

Only reward your dog when it comes to you without reacting to the distractions. Ideally, it shouldn’t even turn its head into the distraction’s way, but that’s nearly impossible for puppies.

Mistakes in Golden Retriever Training

Learn the golden retriever training mistakes to avoid making them and hindering your dog’s success. Don’t rush the training – give your puppy enough time to learn the command in a familiar environment before heading outdoors.

Perceive training as a routine, albeit a fun one. A common mistake of inexperienced dog owners is not being consistent. Dog training requires discipline not solely from the dog but also from the owner.

Allow your puppy to rest. Training your pup seven days a week won’t help you achieve results faster but can lead to a poor attitude.

Don’t scold your puppy for getting distracted. If your golden retriever doesn’t come when called, simply don’t give it a treat. If you use punishment, it will associate the command “come” with a negative reaction.

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