How to Train a Dog to Recall

Teaching your dog to recall or to come to you when called is one of the most critical skills that your dog should learn. However, training your dog to recall can be challenging, as dogs are innately curious and can easily be distracted. Every time you ask your dog to come to you, you’re asking it to stop what it’s doing and turn away from all the interesting smells and views in the environment.

To establish a reliable recall, you need to make your dog realize that being near you is fun and can bring them exciting rewards such as tasty treats. In this article, we will share some tips on how to train your dog to recall.

What Does Reliable Recall Mean in Dog Training?

When you read about dog training, you most probably will encounter the term “reliable recall”. But what does this actually mean? Basically, this just means that your dog will come to you consistently when called. 

Dogs can’t be programmed to pick up the cue and automatically come to you without fail. However, with efficient training, you can get your dog to respond enthusiastically 99.99% of the time. A reliable recall is an essential skill, especially during emergencies and if you want to be able to allow your dog to run without a leash and out in a dog park. 

Tips for Training A Dog to Recall

An essential aspect of training your dog to recall is to make the sessions a game for your dog. You’d want your dog to associate coming and being near you as something fun and with all the tasty treats, verbal praises, and belly rubs. High-value treats such as chicken, liver, and cheese are some of the best healthy rewards.

It is recommended to begin the training in an environment free from distractions such as inside your home. First, you can show your dog the treats and then praise it as it is coming toward you. Once your dog reaches you, give it the treat. 

Repeat this step a couple of times. Whenever your dog looks at you and you are sure that it is starting to move towards you, add in a verbal cue such as “come” or “here”. As your dog starts to learn the command, you can also try asking it to come to you before showing the treat and adding distance. 

Games That Teach Your Dog to Recall

Training is more effective when you make it a game for your dog. So here are some of the games that teach your dog to recall to you.

Catch Me

As you walk your dog on a leash, get its attention, turn around, and then run a few steps. Say a verbal cue such as “come” or “here” as your dog moves with you. After a couple of steps, stop and give your dog a treat. Make sure that you have your dog’s attention before starting running and don’t just yank the leash to make your dog run with you.

Find Me

Once your dog learns the recall skill, you can try calling it from another room to build speed and train it further. When your dog successfully finds you, give it a lot of verbal praises, cuddles, and tasty treats. This game which is a sort of hide-and-seek can be a lot of fun for you and your dog.

Hot Potato

Together with two or more friends or family members, stand a couple of feet apart with treats in your hand. Next, take turns calling your dog, giving it a reward each time it comes towards the person who called it.

Things to Remember When Teaching the Recall Skill

One of the most common mistakes when teaching the recall skill is putting a leash on your dog and taking it home as soon as it comes to you. When you do this, your dog will likely associate the recall command as a signal that the fun is over and will less likely follow it. The effective approach is to recall, reward, and then let it go back to whatever fun thing it was doing before you called it.

For dog training to be effective, you should also do it consistently, preferably on a daily basis. Gradually increase the difficulty of the training and the level of distraction. However, when you notice that you have to repeat your verbal cue, it can be a sign that there is too much distraction in the environment and your dog is not yet ready. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to move the difficulty of your training a notch lower and try again when your dog learns the skill well enough.

Need expert help training your dog? Get in touch with Delaware K9 Academy and learn more about our 2-week bootcamps, private lessons, and puppy training.