Written by 6:45 pm Behavior & Training

5 Reasons Your Dog Won’t Come When Called

Dog won’t come when called? Here are five reasons why, and how to fix it.

Every dog owner knows that there are times when your pup just won’t come back when he is called. You can be excitedly waiting for him to come in from outside, or you might have something extremely important to give him (like a treat) and you know it will spoil his dinner, but no matter what you do, he won’t budge! Luckily for your pup, there are several reasons this might happen even though he really does want to please you. Here are five of the most common reasons why your dog might not come when called.

Springtime in the garden. Cute dog (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever) resting under a tree in the garden during sunset.

He Doesn’t Know How To Come When Called

One of the most common reasons dogs don’t come when called is because they don’t know how! Or, they do know but they just don’t see the point of it.

If you’ve been calling your dog over for a treat or to play a game of tug-of-war then he might not be coming when called because he is looking forward to those things so much more than being dragged away from them. If this is the case, try introducing something new as a reward and only call him once he has finished said new reward. You could also turn to call your pup into more of a game by playing “find me” before asking him to come back to you. This way, your pup will be excitedly waiting in anticipation for his next move rather than reluctant to leave what he is already enjoying.

Bad Experience With Coming When Called

Another common reason dogs don’t come when called, especially those who are unsure or anxious, is because they have had a bad experience with it in the past. Maybe you have tried to call your pup back from another dog in the past and that other dog was not being very friendly, so now your pup has found a new best friend across the street and he might even be scared of coming back to you if he sees that intimidating creature on his way home! Another example could be if you were calling him in from a busy road once before and he was hit by a car while trying to cross – yikes! If this is the case then begin re-training your pup by practicing in a safe environment!

He Knows The Reward Will Come Later

Many dogs won’t come when called because they know that the reward for doing so will be better if they wait. For example, your pup might know that dinner is in two hours time and he doesn’t want to miss out on his regular mealtime routine, so instead of coming straight back to you, he hangs around just long enough to see what you are up to and then returns home when you disappear. To stop this from happening, make sure you only call him once and don’t leave it too late before rewarding him with a treat or meal. If your pup knows there is no point in waiting then he won’t!

He Wants To Chase Something More Interesting

Silly dogs… your pup might just want to chase something more interesting than you and it’s easier for him to go after that new, exciting thing rather than return back to boring old you. If this is the case then try to make yourself as interesting as possible by putting on a fun show first before calling him back. You could put on one of his favourite TV shows, or even take part in some obedience training which will have the added benefit of giving you some bonding quality time together. Once he has finished having fun with whatever you do, call him back and use a slightly more exciting reward such as a game of tug-of-war or a training session.

He Is Lazy!

Last, but certainly not least is your pup’s natural instinct to be lazy by avoiding heavy exercise such as running and jumping. If your dog thinks that you are calling him for more active playtime then he may just stay where he is because it is easier than getting up and walking the long way over to you. You can work around this problem by giving your dog lots of quality time together with short, engaging games or walks but don’t call him back when he actually doesn’t want to come – remember, it takes two to play! Try these fun games instead.

Finally, Work on Better Behavior

All of the tips above assume that your dog has had some training and, if this is not the case in your household, then work on teaching him some basic manners before trying to call him back all the time. Your pup will be more obedient and less likely to ignore you when called if he knows how to follow simple commands such as sit, stay and come here. It takes a while for dogs to learn these things, but luckily there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started including “Family Dog” magazine from BowTie Press!

If none of the reasons above apply to your pup then it could simply be that he doesn’t understand what he needs to do by coming back – no problem! There are some tips below which can help you.

Keep It Short And Simple!

Dogs are clever creatures, but only in a certain sense and their attention spans are generally not very long either. So, if you find yourself following your dog around the park while he is chasing after the other dogs for hours on end then it’s probably time to call it a day! Instead, try calling him back to you every 5-10 minutes and practicing some basic training commands such as sit or come here before doing so. This way, when you do eventually call him back, he will be more likely to listen because of all that positive reinforcement he has just received from obeying your every command. Also, don forget “clicker” training… it’s fun and easy!!

Make Sure You Have A Good Reward!

Finally, if you find that your dog is always running away from you then perhaps the problem isn’t with your pup after all but rather how good your reward is. If he feels like coming back to you doesn’t result in anything great then why would he bother? Make sure that whatever reward you give him (e.g. a treat, meal or grooming session) is something that he absolutely loves so that his only motivation for ever ignoring any calls will be gone. So what are some of these awesome rewards? Well here are some tips on teaching your dog 11 common commands. Remember, every dog is different and we don’t guarantee your pup will perform these commands but they are a good place to start!


  • Call your puppy in a happy, playful tone of voice.
  • Work on obedience and recall training before trying to call him in all the time. It may make things go 100x faster if you use this program!
  • Make sure you have a reward that is worth coming back for!
  • Keep it short and simple so that your dog isn’t getting bored of always being called back. Work on short games such as 5 minutes of playtime instead of an hour!
  • Make sure your treat or reward is worth the effort for your dog to come back.
  • Finally, make sure that you have a good voice tone and body language when calling your pup because if he doesn’t know why you are unhappy then what’s the point?

Have another training tip? Comment below! We love to hear from other dog owners or anyone interested in helping their pup become better trained. Remember, every dog is different so especially more difficult dogs may need a different approach but we hope to help as many people be as successful as possible with their pups 🙂

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