Dog Training Basics: Recall on Command, aka “Come”

dog training commands

Dog training specialists recommend teaching your dog to come on command – also known as recall on command – at the earliest possible time.

Although all dog training components are important, the recall command is crucial to your pet’s safety as well as your peace of mind. Unfortunately, teaching your pet to come when called is one of the more challenging skills to train.

The Importance of Training Your Dog to Come on Command

If you would like to take your pet hiking, camping or even to the dog park, this command is the key to enjoying those activities without a leash. In fact, the recall command provides the same level of control as a leash – albeit in a slightly different way.

Even if you never plan to take your dog outside without a leash, accidents happen. You may experience a broken collar, leash or harness, for example. Imagine if a visitor to your home accidentally leaves a door or gate open, and your dog finds his way out.

When your pet will heed your recall command, you can breathe a little easier knowing that, if the unthinkable happens, you will have control over the situation.

Maintain Realistic Expectations for This Aspect of Dog Training

All dog breeds can master the recall command, though it is easier for some breeds. This skill is particularly difficult for sighthounds (Afghans, Greyhounds, Whippets) and scent hounds (Bassets, Beagles, Dachshunds). But even if your pet is a fast learner, it will take time to truly set the skill in deeply.

Although you can train many dogs to sit or shake in a day, teaching recall can take months if you undertake the task yourself.

Never take a negative approach, no matter how much your pet seems to resist learning to come when called. Even one time of scolding your dog once he reaches you can prevent him from heeding your recall when it truly matters. Likewise, use the command primarily for enjoyable reasons. In other words, if you only try to recall your pet when it’s time to go in the crate or to the vet, don’t be surprised is she stops responding before long.

Teaching Your Pet the Recall Command

Most dog trainers could fill a book on this subject – and many already have. Teaching your pet to come when you call him takes time, patience and consistency. It also requires ongoing reinforcement.

As with all aspects of dog training, you’ll have the best luck by using the positive reinforcement approach. The secret to teaching this skill is to convince your dog that coming to you is better than anything else in the world, and that means knowing what your dog values most.

Is your dog primarily motivated by yummy treats, effusive praise, or is he all about playing fetch? Some pet parents have to mix up the rewards to keep their pet motivated. Start the training indoors or in your own backyard. Arm yourself with the chosen reward, take a few steps away and give your dog the “come” command. Praise him continuously as he moves toward you, and then give big praise and the treat when he reaches you.

You can practice this skill throughout the day in the house. Be sure to have each family member work with your pet on this skill also. When you take your dog out, always use the leash to practice this skill until you’re certain the skill is well established.

At Innovative K9 Academy, our trainers strongly recommend trusting a professional pet trainer to teach your dog to come when called. If you don’t have experience with pet training techniques, it’s easy to become frustrated and give up. However, this skill is much too important to neglect. At some point, your pet’s life may depend on it.

Based in Salt Lake City, we are northern Utah’s premier provider of professional pet training, doggy boot camps and puppy school. Contact us today to learn more about our effective methods of advanced dog training.