How To Teach Your Dog The Recall Command

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
Recall is an essential command your dog needs to learn to keep him safe – here’s how to teach it

When it comes to training your puppy or dog, teaching the “sit” and “down” commands are fairly easy because these are things your dog is naturally inclined to do. Teaching your dog to come when called, however, can be a little more difficult – especially in situations where your dog would rather be doing something else. Recall is incredibly important for dogs, however, because you never know when your dog might get into a dangerous situation and calling him back to you could save his life.

Getting Started

Your first step in teaching your dog recall is to choose a recall command – you should not simply use your dog’s name to call him because this could be confusing if you use his name in association with other commands. A simple “come” or “here” command works well as long as you are consistent in using the same command throughout your training.

Related: 6 Tips On Teaching Your Puppy To Come When Called

Start in a low-distraction environment such as a large room in your house or an enclosed garden – if your dog is too distracted, he will be unlikely to come to you and the exercise will be wasted. Stock up on plenty of tasty treats that will have your dog interested in coming to you. Ideally, the treats should be small but very smelly so that your dog can get a whiff of them and come running. You may also want to mix it up, using a different kind of treat during every training session.

To begin, kneel a few feet away from your dog and give him the recall command in an excited voice – your dog is more likely to come to you if he thinks it will be fun. Repeat this exercise until your dog is consistently responding to the cue – give him a treat each time he responds correctly. Next, you can make it into a game by running a few feet away from your dog and giving him the recall cue. Just be sure that you only reward your dog when he comes appropriately.

Related: Teach Your Dog To Be A Canine Good Citizen

Other Methods

The training method described above is the simplest method of training your dog to come when called, but it is not the only option. Some dog owners prefer the “back up and recall” method. To implement this method, put your dog on a short leash and practice in a distraction-free environment. Hold the leash and give your dog the “come” command then take a few quick steps backward. Keep moving backward away from your dog until he comes all the way to you. When he does, praise him and offer him a treat. In addition to teaching your dog the “come” command, this method also trains him to keep an eye on you and to pay attention to where you are going.

Another option for training recall is to use a long line or training leash about 20 feet long. Using a long leash gives your dog more freedom to move about but allows you to keep him under control. To implement this training method you will need the help of a friend or family member. Start by having someone hold your dog by crossing their hands in front of his chest to restrain him while you hold the other end of the leash. Get your dog’s attention by waving a treat in front of his face and use his name then run away from him while giving the “come” command. Use the “come” command only once but encourage your dog to follow by clapping your hands. When your dog comes, praise and reward him. Over time you can run further from your dog before you give the “come” command – this will teach your dog to respond even when you are not directly next to him.

The key to training your dog is to make it fun – if your dog enjoys the training sessions and has fun with you, he is more likely to be actively engaged. In training your dog for recall, don’t be afraid to get creative in making up games to ensure that your dog has a good time.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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