Teaching Your Dog to Recall

Recall is one of the most important commands your dog needs to know.

One of the more advanced commands you’ll teach your dog, recall also happens to be one of the more important. That’s because it’s a command that could save his life in dangerous situations. You’ll need to be patient with your dog when training recall—it’s not a command he’ll learn overnight. Let’s go over a few ways properly teach this command.

Choose a Command Word

The first step is choosing a recall command—it shouldn’t be your dog’s name because this could be confusing if used in association with other commands. A simple “come” or “here” command works well as a recall command, just be consistent in using the same command throughout your training.

No Distractions

You’ll want to practice in a low-distraction environment—this can be in a large room in your home on in your backyard. Make sure it’s a place where your dog won’t be distracted, because the exercise will be wasted. Use his favorite treat as an incentive to come to you when you call.

Basic Recall Method

To start, 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’ll be fun. Repeat until your dog is consistently responding to the cue—give him a treat each time he responds correctly. Next, turn it into a game by running a few feet away from your dog and giving him the recall cue. Be sure to only reward your dog when he comes appropriately.

dog recall


“Back Up and Recall” Method

Some prefer the “back up and recall” 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, and then take a few quick steps backward. Keep moving backward away from your dog until he comes all the way to you. When he reaches you, praise him and offer him a treat. This method also trains your dog to keep an eye on you and to pay attention to where you are going.

Leash and a Friend Method

Another option is to use a long line or training leash about 20 feet long. This gives your dog more freedom to move but allows you to keep him under control. You’ll need the help of a friend or family member for this training method.

Start by having someone hold your dog, 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, 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’re not next to him.

Most Importantly: Have Fun!

The key to successful training your dog is to make it fun—training sessions should be a game with rewards, in order to ensure engagement. And when teaching recall, get creative and the both of you will have a good time.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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