Dog recall training

Recall - Perhaps the most impawtant type of training when taking our dogs out and about.

19th January 2024

This week’s Dog Training video is all about recall!

Perhaps the most impawtant type of training when taking our dogs out and about, recall is essential to guarantee your canine companion’s safety.

Having good recall means your pup returns to your side, despite any distractions, the instant they hear their recall cue. A ‘recall cue’ is your chosen sound, or signal, to indicate to your dog that it’s time for them to run back to you.

Before we embark on recall training, we need to find the ideal high value rewards for our furry best friends!

By finding your pet’s ‘high value reward’, you’re motivating your dog to return to you, since they’ll associate returning to you with a reward they’re extremely excited about. To keep your pooch engaged with a training session, check out our article about finding the right reward for your dog.

5 steps for teaching dogs recall

At the beginning of your recall training journey, your dog should be kept on a lead – even if you’re working with them indoors. Helping your pup get used to the equipment, recall cue, and what’s expected of them will provide the best foundation for working towards reliable recall.

Taking the time to develop trust with your canine companion, and building trust in their recall skills, will set you up for a safer future together!

You’ll need to be familiar with marker word training for the following steps to be effective:

Step 1 – Begin by holding a treat in front of your dog’s nose, saying their name, and guiding them back a few steps. Once they’ve caught up with you, mark and reward!

Step 2 – Without a treat this time, hold your empty hand in front of your dog’s nose, say your pet’s name, and guide them back a few steps. As soon as your dog has reached you, mark and reward.

Step 3 – It’s time to add a vocal cue (like ‘come’ or ‘here’)! Repeat the hand gesture in front of your pooch’s nose, then say your chosen vocal cue, before stepping backwards again. Then, when they’ve followed you, mark and reward.

Step 4 – With every success, start to take more steps back, until you no longer need the hand gesture to hold your dog’s attention. The new process should be to say your dog’s name, say your vocal cue, take a few steps back, then mark and reward.

Step 5 – When you’re happy with the success of your dog’s recall indoors, use a long line and practise recall training outdoors; in the garden or another quiet, safe space.

Remember: Each of the above steps will need to be repeated multiple times, until your dog reliably responds, you can then move on to the next step.

Top tip: If you say your dog’s name and recall cue, but they don’t return to you, it’s important not to repeat their name or the cue again! Instead, try this:

  • Wait a few seconds, to give your pet the opportunity to respond.
  • Slide to the left (or right!), to grab their attention by getting into their eyeline.
  • Should your dog still not be responding to you, walk up to them while gathering their lead. Then, hold a treat in front of their nose, before guiding them back to where they were called from. Once they’re back, mark and reward! (Just because they needed help, doesn’t mean they haven’t performed a great recall).

Have you and your dog already mastered basic recall training? If so, take your training to the next level, by discovering the ways you can build on recall with your canine companion.