A Guide to Recall Training for Your Dog

Carrie Pallardy
 
Does your dog come when you call? Reliable recall is an essential part of training your pet. You want to know your dog will come when you call at home, but this command is especially important for off-leash runs and play outside where safety becomes an issue. You do not want your dog to ignore your calls by a busy road or near an aggressive animal. How do you get started on recall training?
 

It’s All About the Name

 
First things first: your dog needs to know her name. If she doesn’t respond to her name, she is unlikely to respond to a recall command. If you are choosing a name for a puppy or an older canine addition to the family, experts typically recommend choosing a name with two syllables, according to The Spruce Pets. It is also advisable to avoid names that sound to similar to other commands you plan to teach your pet.
 

Training Sessions

 
 
Plan consistent training sessions, but keep the sessions relatively short, around 15 minutes. Start by calling your dog’s name and adding your chosen verbal cue for recall, such as “come” or “here.” Some owners opt to use a whistle or a clicker as their recall command. You also have the option of adding a visual cue, such as holding your arms open or crouching down.
 
Whenever your dog reliably returns to you, offer praise and a reward. Over time, you can slowly add more distance during your training sessions. It might be helpful to work with a partner who can gently hold your dog in place while you walk away. You can also incorporate long leads into your approach, which might be particularly handy when you move your training time outdoors.
 
Ultimately, you want your dog to reliably come back to you regardless of what delicious smells or interesting noises they might want to investigate instead. This means introducing distractions is an important part of recall training. Be patient with your dog and consistently train even if they do give in to those distractions.
 

Mistakes to Avoid

 
 
Every dog is different. Some will pick up on recall right away, while others will need a longer period of regular training. While you are teaching your pup to come, try to avoid some common mistakes, such as chasing your dog or poisoning your recall cue. Chasing your dog may make them think evading you is a fun game. Poisoning the cue happens when a dog can no longer understand what you want when you give a certain command. You might need to start from the beginning with a new cue if this happens.
 
Reliable recall is a great skill for your pup to have, especially when you take him outside for off-leash playtime. Keep in mind your local leash laws, and don’t be afraid to keep the leash on until you are certain your dog is ready to always come when called.
 
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