5 Tips for Training Your Dog to Come When Called at the Dog Park

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Dog parks can be a wonderful way for your dog to enjoy off-leash time and play. However, when the wrong dogs collide, dog parks can also be dangerous.

Teaching your dog to come when you call not only helps to remove your dog from a potentially dangerous situation, it may save a life. In her CD-ROM presentation What is My Dog Saying at the Dog Park, Carol Byrnes offers these tips to ensure a strong recall at the dog park. Practice at home first!

What is My Dog Saying in the Dog Park

[excerpted from What is My Dog Saying at the Dog Park]

  • Call often and reward generously with a high-value food reward, a game with a favorite toy, or any activity that your dog loves.
  • Every time you call your dog and reward him well, you increase the speed and likelihood of future reliable responses.
  • Avoid calling to anything your dog finds disappointing or unpleasant, or he will learn to avoid you when you call.
  • Congratulate your dog every time he checks in.
  • Call, praise, and then send your dog off to play frequently so that your dog doesn't think that the only time he hears "come" is when it's time to go home.

For more tips on how you and your dog can have a safe and successful time at the dog park, including hints on how to understand what dogs are saying to each other, pick up your copy of What is My Dog Saying at the Dog Park – now available in our online store!

Food treats at the dog park

I never recommend my clients bring any sort of food treats (or food in general! Not the place to eat your lunch!) to a dog park. If you aren't comfortable fending off five, six, or ten dogs demanding what you have in your pockets all at the same time then you might want to try something different.

As a matter of fact, many dog parks in my area specifically outlaw food AND toys, due to the possibility of fights from resource possessive dogs. 

If it is possible I recommend practicing recall at the dog park just outside the fence, on a long lead, with high value treats. Practice a few times and then go in and have fun!