Reliable Dog Recall:
7 Professional Tips

A dog recall command is one of the most important commands you will teach your dog. If you have been wondering - How do I teach my dog to come? You arrived at the right place. Read and practice!

With most dog training commands, letting your pooch “get away” with it and not respond correctly, is not terribly bad. But, training your dog to come must be reliable, no room for error.

That said, you can teach your hound this skill with purely positive methods and fun games. In fact, that is the idea, to make your dog believe that coming when called is the best thing in the world!

You will learn that punishment will only make things worse, since no dog want to come knowing he will be punished. Use these 7 dog recall tips wisely and always keep your dog safe. 

Dog Recall Tip #1: Dogs are slow progressive learners

As a dog trainer my job is to … train people! I often find that we, humans, have no patience when training our furry hounds because we think the concepts we are teaching them are too easy, they should know it!

They are easy, but for a human brain. Dogs are slow progressive learners and need to start with baby steps and slowly move on to bigger and more difficult tasks.

The best first baby step is called “Follow me!”. While you are walking your dog, if he lags behind or ahead, call him with the treat in your hand and as soon as he looks at you start running to have him follow you, after a few steps stop and give him the treat.
Try this same exercise while you are at the dog park. While your pooch is playing with other dogs, go to him, put a piece of (really yummy) treat under his nose and have him follow you a few steps away from the other dogs. Then, give him the treat and tell him to go back to play.

You are slowly teaching him that following you when you call is always rewarding.

dog recall, teach my dog to come when called

Dog Recall Tip #2: Plan your steps ahead of time

Remember dogs learn slowly and the best way to teach them something is to have a “lesson plan”. You must work your way from very easy exercises to more difficult ones progressively, always letting your pooch succeed at every step.

When you train your dog to come, the first step should be a piece of cake! Stand only a few steps away from your dog, call his name followed by ”Come!”. As soon as he comes praise and treat! You may think this is too easy for your dog… THAT IS THE KEY! Repeat many times, then progressively add distance.

Dog Recall Tip #3: The way to a dog’s brain is through his stomach.

Training a dog recall command is one of the most important things to teach your furry friend. That is why you need to use food wisely.

Different kinds of treats have different values to your dog. Use low value treats for easy exercises and high value treats for the hardest ones.

dog recall with toysToys like balls and tug-of-war ropes are great motivators too!

Dog Recall Tip #4: Add difficulties and challenges

After you have worked on distance recalls with your dog, it is time to make things a little more difficult. Ask a friend to help you with distractions. Things that your dog must run by on the way to you. For example: bouncing a ball, placing a plate of food on the floor, etc.

Dog Recall Tip #5: Success is crucial

You must make your dog succeed at every stage, if he fails and fails, he gets frustrated and won’t want to work anymore. On the other hand when treats come easy and frequently he will stay motivated. Of course you can challenge him once in a while!

Dog Recall Tip #6: Positives must outweigh negatives

The positive consequences of coming when called must always outweigh the negative ones to keep you pooch always motivated to respond to a recall.

Very often we call our dogs because we want to take them away from the park, lock them somewhere because we need to go or scold them because they did something bad.

Sometimes there is no way around it, you have to call your dog away from play to go back home, or place them in a confined area to prevent puppy destruction. However, it is very important to ALSO call your dog for good things (play, treats, go out for a walk, snuggle on the couch, etc.).

For example, at the park call your dog to give him a treat often, then send him back to keep playing. At home, teach your furry friend to love his crate or confinement area, so he doesn’t feel it’s a punishment.

Dog Recall Tip #7: Never punish your dog for coming when called

This last tip is one of the most important ones. NEVER physically punish your dog for coming when called. As crazy as this may sound, most people do it without realizing it. They call their dog because he peed on something inappropriate, then scold him, yell, even hit. Same story if a puppy chewed through something valuable. Another example is when a person keeps calling their dog and he/she won’t respond. After a while the dog finally comes, the owner frustrated and infuriated punishes the dog for taking so long. Unfortunately dogs don’t think that way, and they only associate their coming to you with a punishment.

No matter how mad you are, no matter how frustrated and angry…if your dog comes to you, you praise him.

Now that you know the basics, prepare your lesson plan for teaching your dog to come with the help of this article.


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