A Pawsitive Approach to Recall: Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

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It’s best to teach your inquisitive canine a solid recall before you need the behavior – not when you need it urgently! There are definitely times when getting your dog to come to you is for his or her safety. If you’re interested in learning how to break down the skills needed to teach your dog to come when you call, how to “save your recall” and how you and your pup can stay motivated by keeping practice sessions fun and rewarding, we’ve got you covered.

A Brief Refresher

You may find it helpful to begin with a review of:

Teach Your Dog A Solid RecallThe Skills

  • Begin indoors with few distractions.
  • Start by backing away from your dog. 
  • As he approaches you, use your happiest voice to praise. You can even clap! 
  • Then stop backing away. When pup stops in front of you, reach in and grab his collar with one hand, and give him a tasty treat from the other. Optional: When you stop, ask your dog to sit first before reaching for the collar and giving the reward.
  • Repeat this several times, until your dog is almost chasing you around and it’s hard to start the exercise over again!
  • Once your dog has become skilled in these steps, repeat the same exercise in different rooms of the house. The goal is for your inquisitive canine to consistently associate your call and you reaching out toward him, with the most wonderful things – yummy treats and lavish praise! 

Keep Practicing 

Continue to practice simple recall exercises around your house and reward in the same enthusiastic manner. Using your most cheerful voice, call your dog to you when she or he is close by, grab his or her collar and reward generously with fantastic treats and profuse praise. Optional: “Click” when your dog gets to you before reaching for the collar and rewarding. Repeat until your dog is coming to you, reliably and eagerly, each and every time you call his name. 

Troubleshoot Before Advancing 

At any point in these exercises, if your dog doesn’t come when cued, “save your recall” by going to him or her. Cheerfully, walk or lure your dog back to where you called him from, using a treat or toy, then praise and reward in that location.

When refining your recall skills, ask yourself, what are your tone of voice and body language saying? Remember that the sound of your voice should be music to your dog’s ears, predicting fantastic rewards, so use your happy voice at all times. Be a cheerleader! 

Implementing the 3-D’s: Distance, Duration and Distractions

When you’re ready to move on and make it more challenging, call your dog’s name when he or she is in another room, or with another family member and isn’t expecting it. Again, when your dog comes to you, grab his or her collar, then lavish with praise and petting.

Next, continue increasing the distance between you and your pup during recall exercises, still with few distractions. For instance, call from 8-10 feet away, even if your dog is doing something else. Reward as outlined above – cheery voice, clapping, praise, petting, treats, etc. You can even practice recall by playing hide and seek in your house!

Only move on to more difficult challenges when the step you’re working on is a piece of cake for your dog. Keep it simple by increasing the distractions one at a time. Then, when all of your indoor recalls are going great, you can begin to move your training outside. For more on that, please see this complementary post from our sister site, TransPaw Gear. 

We hope you and your inquisitive canine enjoy this pawsitive approach for positive results in all of your training endeavors. Thank you for being an inquisitive dog guardian!


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