How to Train to Recall Your Dog?

September 30, 2017
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

Your dog can be the whole world for you, and some of the best times that you will spend with your pooch are outside during playtime. There are two choices that you can avail when you go out of the house with your dog; you take it either on a leash with you or without it. However, to take your dog out without a leash can be highly dangerous and challenging, especially if it has not been trained properly.

The dangers can be severe: Fido may run off on a busy road, run off towards another potentially dangerous animal, or run far away and losing you behind. All these may result in undesired circumstances. So, what is a good training method to stop your dog from leaving your side or at least coming back to you when you call for him? You need to teach him to respond to the recall command.

Yes, it sounds a bit complicated, and to be honest, it is as it takes a lot of work and time. Some dogs may be able to get the hang of it in a few months, while others may even take years. The key here is to be patient and not to mistreat your dog as this can have an adverse impact on it.

Though you can get a trainer to help you with the technique, it is best that you train your dog yourself as well (even with the trainer around) so that it recognizes your voice and listens to you at all times.

Why Is Recall Important?

As we already mentioned earlier, you could be in situations that could prove to be potentially harmful to your dog. Of course, your dog wouldn’t know better, and it is up to you to protect him. You need to make sure that your dog is either by your side at that time or at least away from the danger. The best way to get it to follow your command is by training it for recall so that when you call your pet, it comes running toward you.

Dogs are quite smart and know when their owner is calling them, but a little training can go a long way as sometimes they can be stubborn and not listen to you at all. If that happens, you will face quite a lot of difficulty which can strain the relationship with your dog.

Recall also ensures that your dog does not wander away from you, especially if it is off its leash. It will run back to you when you call for it, and a lot of distressing situations can be avoided. For example, if your dog runs too close to another dog that is unpleasant, by calling your dog back, you can prevent any harmful situation and move on from that place.

How to Train Your Dog

One of the first questions that arise is, how to train to recall your dog? The steps are quite simple:

  • Start small – make sure that when you start training your dog, you start inside the house or in your backyard. If there is not enough space there, then take it to a secluded area around you.
  • Introduce your dog to the word "come" and associate it with a happy thought or moment so that your dog will know that it will be rewarded when it answers.
  • Start the command with a leash on. Call your dog when it is a little further away from you and run for a short distance with it by your side. Reward it after this run. Carry this on for a few days and make sure that the leash is short.
  • Repeat the above step, but this time make sure that the leash is much longer and call your dog when it is a bit further away from you. Reward it afterward.
  • Once perfected, take the leash off. Call your dog to you and give it a treat, run away, and call again. Give it a treat when it comes to you. Repeat this exercise a few times for as long as needed, and watch your dog learn the recall training.

Training Timelines

Training your dog anything is an ongoing process. However, some types of training can take longer than others. Training your dog the recall command can be a very long process or a short one, depending on how smart and obedient your dog is.

As there are many distractions outside, a dog will be tempted to explore them, thus its attention when outside may waver, which is why this particular type of training can take a long time. It can take two months, while for some dogs, it can take as long as a year or even more. However, do not lose hope in your dog at any point as it will eventually get there.

Negative vs Positive Reinforcement

There are two types of reinforcements that you can use while training your dog. Using negative reinforcement, especially in a severe form such as hitting, is highly discouraged. Yes, there will be times that you will need to use tough love and situations where you will get angry as your dog is not listening to you. However, the key thing to remember is that you must not lose your temper at any time. If you do, your dog will start getting scared of you and its personality will be negatively affected. If you ever do need to use this form, just use a stern voice. Dogs are brilliant and will understand that they did something wrong.

The best way to train a dog is by using positive reinforcement. If your dog does something good, give it a treat or a pat on the head or use a happy voice to cheer it on. The method is more effective and will help the dog learn faster.


Training recall to your dog is critical, especially if you have a large dog that has the potential to scare people. This way if you are ever out and about and someone pops along, you can only call it back to you so that your dog and the other person feel safe to pass. There are also a lot more benefits which you will gradually figure out when teaching your dog.

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