Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

By Marjie Alonso, IAABC

Coming when called, also called a recall, is a crucial skill to teach your dog. With a good recall, your dog can avoid dangerous situations, be called away from places they’re not welcome, and of course come to play with you when you’re ready to have some fun together. Off leash walks are only possible if you have a good recall, as are romps on the beach or in the woods with a happy, exploring dog who will safely return to you no matter what’s going on around them.

To teach a good recall, first you need to make your dog’s name the best sound they’ve ever heard, and one that means good things are coming! Here is a training game you can play with your dog to encourage the recall concept.

Get It Game

This is anytime dog training – you can do it while watching TV, cooking dinner, reading – whenever you can take two minutes and make it a regular part of family life for you and your dog. It’s the foundation for a good, solid recall.

  1.  Toss a treat in a way that your dog can see where it goes and tell them to get it.
  2.  Once they’ve gotten the treat, in a nice friendly tone, say, “Fluffy, come!”
  3.  Hold another treat out in your hand for them to see. When they get to you, give them the treat.

After you’ve done this a few times, and from then on, give them the treat while you gently hook a finger through her collar with your other hand. Don’t withhold the treat until you’ve touched their collar, be generous with the type and yumminess of the treat, and remember you’re teaching your dog that “come” means also, “and I will give you good things!”

If your dog doesn’t come, don’t repeat the command. Walk up to them, stick the treat under her nose and back up to where you were. Give it to them when you get there. If they didn’t follow that treat, you need better treats! Practice this several times a day in several locations. You can do this inside and outside with your dog on-leash.

Remember to utilize the four D’s of dog training. It’s important to practice recall in as many locations and with increasing distractions, and from gradually farther away.


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