Training Your Dog to Recall

Each command teaches your dog a way of life. Sit, stay, down, kennel, and come are ways to foster a good working relationship with your dog. Training gives your dog a job to do, reinforces positive attention, and each command serves a purpose.

Not all commands are created equal in difficulty and importance. If you have ever attempted training your dog to come here – you may have already experienced the unique challenge it presents. However, it is possibly one of the most crucial commands to learn. Because there is so much to see in the big wide world – distractions happen. And if your dog doesn’t know how to “come” then they can get lost and injured.

But teaching recall can be annoyingly difficult – and scary!

But what if it doesn’t have to be? What if you could play some games instead? Forget the traditional training setup with this one. It puts way too much pressure on the situation. Remember some general tips. But play some games, test your limits, and you may be surprised what your dog does with a little bit of freedom.

Recall training games for your dog

The Noob’s Game: This is a fun game to play with puppies. It is a safe and effective first step at teaching your dog to come, follow, and recall. This game puts you in the center of the action so the rest of the interesting world around doesn’t distract your furkid’s attention. Start by using the leash. When you’ve settled into your destination (the backyard is perfect) drop the leash, take a few steps ahead, and call your dog. Reward every few steps with a treat. You can use “come”, “here”, and “follow” – it doesn’t really matter too much just pick a word and stick with it. You end up in a game of chase where your dog is “it” and if there is a misstep the leash is still dragging on the ground. Step on it when needed – but especially if you two both spot the squirrel.

Detective Mode: A game of hide and seek can help build the speed it takes for them to follow your recall command. Start in one room and hide in another. Or take the game outside and see how many distractions you two can overcome.

Master Class: The master class is a fun party game for humans too. Gather a few people around and give them a few treats to stash in their pockets. Stand a few feet apart from each other and each person should take a turn calling the dog – by using the command. This game can last for hours and teaches your furkid that a command can happen at any time.  Alternate between rewarding with treats, and a good ear scratch. Because sometimes you don’t have treats with you – and your dog still needs to respond.

Polluting the recall command

Have you ever shouted the same word repeatedly, only for your dog to willfully ignore you? Whether it is out of frustration – or past owners and experiences, any command can become polluted. But it is probably most common with the recall command. And it is best to change up your word and go back to the noob game.

Commands should have clear meanings and they should not take on any negative associations. Your tone of voice has a lot to say too. Your dog knows what sounds like a good time and a bad one. So even if you are panicked in a situation you must remain calm when using commands. Or a pollutant could be something overlooked, for example, if the only time you call your dog to “come” is when you put on their leash to go home – that’s a bad time.

Your dog should always feel that coming back to you – their pet parent – is the best choice in any situation. They should see you as the fantastic human you are, brimming with treats, rewards, and positive experiences.

What to do when your dog ignores your recall

So how do you handle it when you give the command, and your dog doesn’t listen? Or worse, what happens if they dart across the street and down the neighborhood? In those times there isn’t much you can do, except go after them.

Once you catch up, keep your frustrations in check. The last thing you want to do is punish your dog harshly for disobeying the recall command. If you react harshly – you will break trust and could likely pollute the command.

Time out, in a kennel for about an hour is an appropriate correction. It gives you all a chance to settle down and try again another day.

General tips for recall training:

  • Practice daily, then once mastered, practice often for maintenance.
  • No matter how many times it took, never punish your dog for coming to you.
  • Use different types of high-value rewards – treats, toys, and attention.
  • In an emergency, and your dog runs loose, do not chase your dog. Instead, sit on the ground, and calmly call for them. Some dogs will come back to check on you in case you’re hurt. Or run in the opposite direction to inspire them to chase you.

Beware of leash laws

Please be mindful, no matter how good your dog is at the recall command, local leash laws should be respected. Leash laws in Brevard County, Florida apply to anywhere that isn’t fenced, even your own front yard. Our leash laws apply to both dogs and cats.

Recall training options for your dog

Now some dogs just won’t learn to recall, and that’s ok. They make long leashes for those furkids which gives them a little bit of freedom. Click the photo below for a recommended long training leash we recommend.

Another option is calling in professional help, someone that can give you and your dog the best experiences. Space Coast Pet Services recommends several of the best dog trainers in Brevard county. Check out that information, and their prices here.

Leave a comment below if you’ve trained your dog to recall. How did it go? Did they learn quickly?



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