5 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Doesn’t Come When Called [And How to Correct It]

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Tired of chasing your German Shepherd around because they don’t come when called and you run frantically calling to them while your neighbors have a good laugh?

Yeah, I was embarrassed of my dog’s poor recall too.

That is…

Until I learned why my German Shepherd does not come when called.

And here’s how you can learn to do the same, too.

Why does my German Shepherd not come when called?

german shepherd coming when called
Imagine your dog running toward you with this much excitement when you call them!

The main reasons your German Shepherd doesn’t come when you call him is because you skipped some steps in training, you called him to you to punish him, he is poorly exercised, there’re too many distractions, and coming to you means you stop his fun.

Any of these reasons will ruin your German Shepherd’s recall and they won’t come when you call them.

But, keep calm…

I’m going to tell you how to fix your GSD’s recall problems right now.

1. You skipped over some essential training to the come command.

you skipped over essential come command training
Did you skip a step in your come command training? Better check!

As a herding and working breed, your German Shepherd has a long history of thinking for themselves when in the great outdoors. So, your training to the come command must follow a process where you teach the baby steps to your dog, even if you think they already know the command.

This especially goes for German Shepherd puppies learning the come command because now’s your chance to correct and fix their poor response to you before it’s fully ingrained into their behavior.

How to Correct Missed Training

You must start with my post that gives you step-by-step of all the basics of the come command training for your German Shepherd.

Do not pass GO.

Do not collect $200…

Until you work through the step-by-step instructions for a reliable come command.

You probably knew that I was going to tell you to train your dog, but I bet you didn’t know there’s an easy system to teach it that you can start right away at home. There’s even a handy table for a quick reference to the step in the post — see for yourself.

2. You’ve called your German Shepherd to you to punish him.

you called your german shepherd to punish him
Don’t call your dog to you and then punish him.

Not only do harsh punishments ruin your bond with your German Shepherd, but punishment can also cause your dog to not come when called because they’re afraid of you.

Let’s face it.

Do you want to go to someone screaming your name just to get punished or yelled at?

I didn’t think so.

Here’s What to Do Instead

Only call your dog to the come command when you give him a reward.

This means, a tasty piece of a treat, a scratch on the shoulder or chest, or a fun game with you.

I’m sure you know how to give treats and pets to your dog, but when the last time you’ve taken your German Shepherd’s favorite toy on your walks or to the park?

Make yourself enjoyable and fun to be around and your dog will return to your come call more and more.

3. Your German Shepherd is not getting enough exercise.

german shepherd lying down bored because they are under-exercised
Your dog might spend most of his day lying the back yard or couch. Become his new exercise buddy!

I know how tired you are after being at work all day, going to school, or taking care of your usual personal life and family.

But your dog is counting on you to give them their daily dose of Vitamin E…

No, not a pill or supplement, but actual physical EXERCISE!

You’ve gotten a working breed dog with a high-energy drive. If you don’t exercise him he’s bound to take off running away from you to enjoy his freedom and burn off his energy.

How to Help Your German Shepherd

You’ve probably already guessed it, but you’re going to need to give your GSD at least 2 hours of exercise a day.

Sure, there’s the daily walk on a lead that is a requirement, however, there’s plenty of other ways to exercise this athletic breed…

Besides fetch!

Instead of trying to think of ideas to burn off your dog’s built-up energy, use this helpful post 9 German Shepherd Exercises for Rock Solid Health where I’ve made a fun list for you.

Your dog will thank you for all their new fun and in the process, you get to have extra time to bond with your GSD while getting your own fitness in!

4. There are too many distractions for your dog to focus on you.

there are too many distractions, like squirrels, for your german shepherd to focus on you
Smells, sights, sounds… even squirrels are all huge distractions for your German Shepherd.

Have you thought about all the distractions that you have to compete with to get your German Shepherd to come to you?

There’s…

  • squirrels
  • cats
  • other dogs
  • trees, grass, flowers, bees and butterflies
  • cars and trucks speeding by
  • the smell of BBQs or burgers on the grill flowing through the breeze straight to your dog’s nose

And there’s much more that you have to overcome to get your dog to listen to you when giving commands outdoors!

Have you ever heard of ‘dog brain’ (not the scientific name of course). Well, dog brain is when your German Shepherd’s thoughts go from one sight, sound, or smell straight into the next — all within .0001 seconds (or some other speed of light time).

So, you need to get your dog to listen and focus through all this head chatter.

How to Get Your Dog to Listen

The easiest way to get your German Shepherd to listen to you is to make it a daily activity in an area with few or no distractions at the start.

So, train your dog indoors in a quiet area first. Then, train him in a busy room in your home. Next, train in your yard.

You’re looking to build upon the distractions and to teach your German Shepherd to focus on you through all the noise of life.

Even better, use this helpful guide on Easy Ways to Get Your German Shepherd to Listen to You for a faster recall.

5. You’re just not fun to stay around.

german shepherds like interesting things like sticks and running
Even sticks are more interesting than you sometimes.

Look, I’m not saying this to upset you.

But your adult dog or puppy probably likes fun, happy, and exciting things.

And when you tell him to come to you it generally means he has to go home, leave his friends, stop smelling awesome stinky dog things, and in general…

You’re a real buzz kill!

It’s like a Doggy Disneyland outside…

And you’re the grouchy parent wanting them to get off the rides and go home.

How to Keep Your German Shepherd Interested in You

You need to make yourself more positive to stay around.

When you are practicing the come command don’t just call your German Shepherd to you to go home.

Instead, leash them and offer them a reward or a game of fetch with you. Walk them around for a few minutes, then let them back off their leash.

Repeat this step at least 10 times during your walk, each time when you clip your dog’s leash or lead to their collar make it a fun time to be on a leash with you.

Pet them gently, talk softly to them, offer them a taste of that treat they love. Do anything but take them straight home or load them into the car to drive away from Doggy Disneyland.

This on/off leash routine helps to show them that the leash doesn’t always mean you just yelled at them to get off their favorite ride.

It means another fun time with their favorite person (hopefully, that’s YOU).

Solution Solver for a German Shepherd Who Will Not Come When Called

ProblemSolution
German Shepherd or puppy not listening when called?Start training your new dog or puppy as soon as possible using positive training techniques and begin slowly.
Your German Shepherd looks bored during recall training.Keep recall training sessions short and fun (5 minutes or less). If you see your puppy getting distracted easily stop the training and begin later after they’ve had a nap or enjoyed a play session.
German Shepherd doesn’t come when called outdoors?Be sure to practice your come command in your home first, before moving to your yard, and only when they return reliably when in your yard practice in public areas with little or few distractions.
My German Shepherd doesn’t like the reward I give when I call him.Use more highly-scented treats, like this flavorful freeze-dried liver training treat, or even a toy you know they love and vary up these rewards to keep the sessions fun.
Your German Shepherd doesn’t return to you to be put back on the leash.It’s best to finish your training or playtimes on a high note. Don’t only place your dog’s leash back on him when it’s time to end the fun and go home. Call him throughout your walk to come to you and have his leash put on him, walk him next to you for a few minutes, and then take the leash off and release him to run and play. Do this on every walk about 10 times for at least a week.
My German Shepherd acts like he doesn’t see me when I call him, but his vision is good and he’s healthy.Try to squat down and make yourself lower when you call your GSD so you seem more interesting to them. Slap your thigh or clap your hands to get a puppy’s attention or have your dog look at you.
I’ve used “come”, “here”, and “get over here,” but my German Shepherd still doesn’t come!Remember to keep your commands clear and consistent by sticking to one word that means to come to you. If you’ve used too many different commands too many times your GSD is probably confused at this point. Try a whistle to recall them, similar to this attention-grabbing dog training whistle that sounds the same no matter what… even when you’re stressed or angry.
My German Shepherd likes to play with other dogs and then won’t return to me when I recall him.Uh-oh, sounds like you’re not as interesting as your dog’s friends. And, you need to go back to training indoors to make sure your dog knows come means to return to you — no matter what they’re doing.
I took away the rewards for their come command and now my GSD won’t return to me at all!Start giving your dog rewards again as long as they return. Vary the rewards with either different treats or toys they love. Wean them off again gradually of the rewards for every time they return. But always give them praise and pet them.
I scold my German Shepherd and punish them when they don’t come when called. Now, they avoid me putting their leash on.Don’t ever scold your dog for coming to you, no matter what! You’ll need to start from step 1 and focus on positive interactions with your German Shepherd to build up your trust again.
I have to chase my GSD around the park to get him to come. It’s so embarrassing!Yes, it is quite humiliating to chase your GSD around the park to catch them. So, don’t do it! Chasing simply becomes a game to him and drives him to do it more. Instead, try clapping your hands, offer a higher value tasty treat, and remember to take some squeaky toys they love to entice him to come. Don’t forget to practice placing them on and off-leash at least 10 times during your walks so they know that you leashing them doesn’t mean the end of their fun.
My GSD listens to me inside the house but acts like I don’t exist when we’re outside and training the recall. Why?Begin your early training sessions in areas that are low in distractions. Avoid other dogs, kids, people, little furry animals, or anything else that distracts your German Shepherd. Start in quiet areas and only add in simple distractions… slowly. Always keep your dog on at least a 20-foot long training lead to ensure sure they don’t run off during training sessions.
My German Shepherd puppy is 8 weeks old and doesn’t come when called, even though we’ve practiced daily.At 8 weeks old is a perfect time to begin training your GSD puppy, but a solid recall and come command can take months to perfect. GSD puppies are easily distracted and have short attention spans. Keep up your daily practice in short (less than a few minutes) distractions and stay positive. German Shepherd puppies are top of the league in intelligence and he just needs time to perfect his recall.
Use this Solution Solver to correct a German Shepherd who doesn’t come to you when called.

Want more training help for your German Shepherd?

If you’re reading this post then you’ve probably got a dog that has some other behavior challenges that are starting to frustrate you, too.

Are they barking too much?

Do they seem bored and get into trouble to entertain themselves?

Then, you need to use an easy-to-follow system that you can start right from your own living room.

german shepherd training for bad behavior
Is your dog starting to stress you out? Get Brain Training to help ease your frustration.

Not only does the Brain Training for Dogs system include more solutions to your dog’s behavior issues— saving you stress and time— but it has over a dozen unique games to stimulate their minds and create a better bond for you and your dog. ❤

You can even use the program on your phone while having your daily walks with your German Shepherd (and learning how to reinforce the come command). Check it out to see what you’ve been missing.