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Easy recall in 6 steps

One of the most commonly mentioned behaviour problems in the dog training world is recall. Perhaps you have a partial recall, but lose it when your dog becomes distracted, or perhaps you've never known where to start at all. By perfecting these 6 steps you can become more confident and provide your dog with the off-lead time they so desperately crave!

A dog runs past a person carrying a toy
Play can be a great way to teach your dog to hang out with you.

I've just made a TikTok with recordings of Cheddar learning to recall. You may wish to follow along as you read!

Teach your dog to stay close

Firstly, teach your dog that staying close is valuable. Reward proximity by giving small bits of high value reward every time your dog hands around with you or gives you attention. Alternatively, short bursts of play can be reinforcing for many dogs. If they seem disinterested you are probably practicing in an environment that is too over-stimulating. Go back to basics and learn the exercise in a car park or somewhere similar before returning to anywhere exciting.

Practice using a long-line

A long training line is a fantastic way to teach your dog these exercises in a low risk way, particularly helpful for owners who may be lacking in confidence. Once you feel more able you can even start to drop the line on the floor to give your dog more freedom before eventually letting them off altogether. Typically a 10 metre line such as this is perfect.

Verbal cues

Many people call their dog to recall using the dog's name. I prefer to use the dog's name to get their attention before then using a cue to give them instruction. If you continually shout your dog's name and they just ignore you I'm afraid you will simply teach them to continue doing so. A smooth recall might look something like this:

  1. "Cheddar" - Say the dog's name to get their attention

  2. "Come" - Give the dog the instruction

  3. Encourage your dog to keep travelling towards you and reward them (very important) when they do

(Reward looks different for every dog. Some dogs may prefer you to throw a ball rather than give a food reward!)

Create distance

Repeat the exercise over and over with greater distance between you each time.

Drop the line

Challenge yourself to drop the line on the floor to give your dog more freedom. Whilst they are learning however I advise you to keep close to the end of the line and pick it up if you are unsure - particularly when there is an enticing distraction nearby!

The 3 Ds

As trainers we use "The 3 Ds" to progress our exercises. Working on each one individually, consider the following ways to challenge your dog's recall:

Distance = Create greater space between yourself and your dog

Duration = How long can you repeat the training exercise before your dog loses interest?

Distraction = Speaks for itself!

By sticking to these steps repeatedly and being brave you can create a reliable recall with any dog! Of course, if you find yourself in difficulty reach out via my Contact Form. Good luck!

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