How to Finally Get a Reliable Recall

You call your dog but it never comes, not even after the third time? Here are some tips we put together that are sure to help out while training your dog to respond to a recall.

Recall Signal

We recommend using a signal for recall training that your dog isn’t already familiar with, preferably one you don’t often use on a daily basis and is easy to pronounce. The success of your training depends on your dog being able to associate the signal with positive emotions right from the get-go.

Some examples: “Come”, “Here”, “Close”, “Avanti”, “Kiwi”.

The “Jackpot” Reward

The “Jackpot” reward is a reward that your dog only receives during recall training. This way, you can turn the recall into a delectable treat, and have your dog come more quickly and willingly when called in future.

Train with a Longline Leash

The advantage of a longline leash is that it’s possible to manually bring your dog to you when called. Don’t worry, this won’t instill a sense of achievement in your dog and reward it for not responding. Rather, it will learn to react to your call, and also learn that it’s worth returning because the jackpot reward will be waiting!

Only Train in Good Spirits

Don’t underestimate the effects your emotions have on your training! Your dog is very sensitive to your shifts in mood, and will immediately pick up on any signs of annoyance, stress, or anger. A negative tone in your voice will sour the training practice, and the subsequent lack of enjoyment on the part of your dog will show up as much slower progress. Stay positive towards your dog during training and enjoy your time together. Show your dog that you’re having fun.

Be Fair

If you notice during training that your dog is overwhelmed by the exercise, then try simplifying it. Perhaps take a step back and try again at another time. Don’t forget to always end training on a positive note with a sense of achievement. This can be a basic exercise or even just a trick your dog loves to do!

Stay Consistent

You should only call your dog with your recall signal if you’re willing to actually enforce it and have the means to do so. This means not using the signal if you’re not concerned whether your dog actually comes to you in that moment. It also means not using the signal if you’re not in a position to bring your dog to you using a longline leash. In these situations it’s better to get your dog’s attention another way, for example by calling it by its name, slapping your thigh, or whistling.

Use Your Signal Sparingly

Don’t start using your signal in your daily life until your dog has properly mastered it and reacts on the first call. We recommend using the recall signal no more than two times in a row; at this point, your dog should respond and come. If it doesn’t, then you should wait until it faces in your direction, or beckon it in some other way. What’s important is that you always praise your dog and be happy when it finally comes, no matter how long it took. Only then will your signal have a positive connotation for your dog and have it happily coming back to you every time!

By Sarah Mertes

Certified dog trainer