Dog Recall Training

Dog recall training is possibly the most important education you can give your dog. Teaching your dog to come to you reliably, even in the face of distractions, can keep him safe and may even save his life.

Begin with Name Response

Start your dog’s recall training by teaching him his name. Your dog should love the sound of his name, and it should always mean something pleasant is about to happen. You can condition this by pairing his name with a food treat. Sit close to your dog, say his name, when he looks at you, give him a treat and smile at him. Do not ask for additional obedience commands during this training. The behavior you are seeking when you say your dog’s name is eye contact. Remember that your dog’s name is not the cue for him to come to you. Add the word “come” later in the training.

Get Moving

Once your dog is motivated to respond to his name, take him to a secure fenced area and call him as you are backing away from him. He will most likely follow you. Continue to back up for a step or two, and then allow him to catch up to you. Give him a treat and some praise. If your dog is more interested in running around the yard and sniffing or if you do not have a safe place to practice this part of the recall training, you should keep him on a leash or long line.

Add the Verbal Cue

When your dog is regularly moving toward you when you say his name, you should now add the word "Come."  Do this for the first time at a distance of just a few feet. As your dog performs successfully you can add more distance between you when you call him. Each time you call your dog to come to you, begin praising him as soon as he moves in your direction. Pet him and offer him a food treat when he arrives.

Tips for Successful Dog Recall Training

  • Reward your dog for coming to you. As often as possible, give him a food reward for successful recall.
  • If you repeatedly call your dog to come to you while he ignores you, you will teach him that there is no reason to come to you.
  • Keep your dog on his leash if he is not trained to come when called. He should not practice running away from you.
  • Call to your dog in a happy voice, so he will want to respond to you.
  • Do not call your dog to you to correct him or for other unpleasant reasons. It is better to go get your dog and place a leash on him.
  • Play retrieving games and games that require your dog to chase you. Never chase your dog, for fun or any other reason.
  • Practice recall training in your house and backyard at least ten times per day. Randomly call your dog to you, give him a treat and release him to go play.