Dog Training

Dog recall training. Five steps to success.

Dog recall training. Five steps to success.

Getting your dog to come when they’re called is one of the most important things you can teach them. After all, if you let your dog off the lead, you need to be sure you can get them back quickly and easily. Here we look at five simple steps to teaching dog recall.

1. Get ready

We’ve got lots of Dog training tips to make life easier. Keep training sessions short and fun, for example, and use lots of positive reinforcement. All these basics are important for successful recall training. You’ll also want to pick a quiet, secure area that’s free of distractions. If you don’t have a safe, enclosed area at home, you can train in the park with a long-line training lead with a harness.

Rewards are very important for recall training and it’s about finding what best motivates your dog, whether that’s a particular game or toy or food. If it is food (and for a lot of dogs it is!) you want something very tempting. PEDIGREE™ Ranchos Slices and Ranchos Sticks fit the bill perfectly. Ranchos Slices are made with 100% natural beef and Ranchos Sticks 100% natural chicken. Neither contain any added colours or flavours, and they are less than 5% fat.

2. Teach your dog the cue word

You need to choose a word you’ll use every time you want your dog to come to you. Keep it simple by choosing something such as ‘come’ or ‘here’. Dogs are often confused by the sheer volume of words that spill out of us humans! Make sure everyone in your household is using the same cue word – again, that helps to avoid confusion. Some people find that adding in a visual cue, such as holding your arms wide open can help too.

To teach your furry friend the cue word, call them in an upbeat tone of voice using your cue word and their name. When they come to you, immediately give them their reward. Keep doing this until you’re confident your dog understands their word.

3. Practise makes perfect

Keep practising recall and always praise your dog for coming back to you, no matter how long it takes. If you find they ignore you sometimes, it’s important not to scold or punish them or pull them towards you with their lead. All these things will do is make your dog not want to come back to you. Instead, gently guide your furry friend towards you with the long-line or go and collect them.

4. Add in distractions

Once your dog is getting good at coming when they’re called, you need to find out whether they would still do so if there was a distraction. If there was something new and interesting to sniff, for example, or if there was a ball being thrown around. To put this to the test, you need to include another person to your training session and get them to distract your dog while you call them. They can do this with a game or some different training. When your dog ignores the distraction and comes to you, make sure you lavish them with praise and rewards.

5. Go walkies

Once you’re confident your dog has got the hang of recall, you can put it to the test on walks. It’s a good idea to use a long-line lead at first. Try to practise recall throughout the walk rather than just at the end because it’s important that your dog learns that coming back doesn’t always mean the end of the fun.

How long does it take for a dog to learn recall?

Every dog is different so it’s impossible to say exactly how long yours will take to learn to reliably come when they’re called. That said, with consistent training and practise, you can expect your dog to learn recall within 3 - 6 months.

Why does my dog not come when I call them?

The most common reasons for a dog not coming when they’re called is that they are confused, frightened or distracted. Gradual training and lots of positive reinforcement are the way forward when it comes to building reliable recall.

What do I do if my dog keeps running away?

If your dog runs away, don’t chase after them because this is likely to make them think it’s a game! Instead, try running away which will encourage your dog to run after you. The most important thing is that your dog sees coming back to you as a positive thing so don’t punish or scold them when you get them back.

Looking for more training advice? Check out How to clicker train a dog and How to toilet train a puppy or dog.