A Simple Trick to Get Your Dog to Come

Whenever we go to the park with Nix, we unleash her so she can run around freely and have some fun outside, as we have no garden and no space for her to run at home. One of the problems we used to have was that when we wanted to go back home, she didn’t want to come and tried to convince us to stay. Her way of doing so was to stay back and not come when called.

Nix would do something like this every time we were leaving. She’d climb up the slope of the park and look at us.

Manel and I dealt with this by saying “Goodbye Nix!” and just leaving. Of course we’d never really leave her, but we had to pretend to and then she’d come after us. Fortunately the street leading to the park is a cul-de-sac and there are rarely any cars.

We’ve been using the Kong tennis balls as a reward for Nix

Even still, the situation was far from ideal, so one day I tried a new strategy. We always (or at least we try to) carry a tennis ball with us whenever we take her out. That day, just as I was about to leave the park, Nix came to my side. I don’t remember if she came because she felt like it, or because I had called her. In any case, I decided to give her the tennis ball I was carrying in my bag. Note that I didn’t throw it to play fetch or played with it in any way. I just gave it to her. Nix was incredibly happy to be allowed to carry the tennis ball back home and didn’t mind at all being leashed in exchange.

Since we’ve been doing this, Nix has never tried to stay away from us whenever she sees we’re about to leave the park. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: she tends to come to us as soon as she sees we’re reaching the exit.

Some considerations
The state of most of the Kong balls that we’ve been using to reward her. They are less likely to start rolling around.

There’s a risk to this strategy, as if Nix drops the ball it can start rolling around and Nix pulls because she wants to get it back. However, many of the tennis balls we have are torn as she enjoys chewing them. So this lowers the risk. Still, our strategy is to take the ball away if she drops it, although we haven’t been 100% consistent with this.

Finally, another thing worth mentioning is that tennis balls have a huge reward value for Nix. The reason being that she doesn’t have any available balls to play with at home and that we almost never play fetch with her using them. We use the frisbee instead.

How can you apply this in your case?
Nix posing with a tennis ball. She loves them!

In my opinion, you should use a high value reward for your dog. It may be a toy (like in our case), food or affection. Ideally, it should be something that the dog really enjoys but that is not usually available to her. For example, we cannot use any special treats for Nix due to her sensitive stomach, so giving her food wouldn’t work as it’d be her usual kibble and it’s nothing special for her.

However, if your dog loves chicken but you never give it to her, using chicken as a reward may work very well.

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