How to Teach Your Dog a Reliable Recall Command

Mastering Dog Training: Recall Volunteer Staff

2/20/20243 min read

brown long coated dog running on snow covered ground during daytime
brown long coated dog running on snow covered ground during daytime


Recall, or coming when called, is one of the most important commands you can teach your dog. A reliable recall ensures your dog's safety and gives you peace of mind when they are off-leash or in potentially dangerous situations. Teaching your dog to come when called requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. In this article, we'll explore effective techniques and strategies for teaching your dog a reliable recall command.

Understanding the Importance of Recall:

A strong recall command is essential for several reasons:

  1. Safety: A reliable recall keeps your dog safe by allowing you to call them away from potential dangers, such as busy roads, wildlife, or other hazards.

  1. Off-Leash Freedom: A well-trained recall gives your dog the freedom to enjoy off-leash activities, such as hiking, playing in the park, or exploring new environments, while still maintaining control.

  1. Bonding and Trust: Teaching your dog to come when called strengthens the bond between you and your furry friend and fosters trust and cooperation.

Basic Principles of Recall Training:

Before diving into specific training techniques, it's important to understand some basic principles of recall training:

  1. Start Indoors: Begin recall training in a quiet, familiar environment with minimal distractions, such as your living room or backyard.

  1. Use High-Value Rewards: Use highly desirable rewards, such as small pieces of cooked chicken, cheese, or hot dogs, to motivate your dog to come when called.

  1. Be Patient and Consistent: Recall training takes time and patience, so be consistent with your training efforts and avoid becoming frustrated if progress is slow.

  1. Practice Regularly: Practice recall training regularly, gradually increasing the level of difficulty as your dog becomes more proficient.

  1. Avoid Punishment: Never punish your dog for not coming when called, as this can undermine their trust and willingness to respond to the command.

Step-by-Step Guide to Recall Training:

  1. Establish a Positive Association: Start by creating a positive association with the recall command. Say your dog's name followed by the word "come" in a cheerful tone of voice, and immediately reward them with a treat or toy when they respond.

  1. Use a Long Line: Begin recall training using a long line or leash to prevent your dog from wandering off and reinforce the behavior. Allow your dog to explore a safe area while keeping the leash loose, and then call them back to you using the recall command.

  1. Practice in Controlled Environments: Practice recall training in various controlled environments, gradually increasing the level of distractions as your dog becomes more reliable. Start with minimal distractions and gradually add more challenging scenarios, such as other dogs, people, or food distractions.

  1. Use High-Value Rewards: Use high-value rewards to reinforce the recall command and motivate your dog to respond reliably. Experiment with different types of rewards to determine what motivates your dog the most.

  1. Build Distance and Duration: Gradually increase the distance and duration of the recall command as your dog becomes more proficient. Start by calling your dog from a short distance away and gradually increase the distance over time. Similarly, gradually increase the duration of the recall command, asking your dog to stay with you for longer periods before rewarding them.

  1. Practice Recalls in Real-Life Scenarios: Once your dog responds reliably to the recall command in controlled environments, practice in real-life scenarios such as the dog park, hiking trails, or outdoor areas with distractions. Use a long line or leash for safety until your dog demonstrates consistent recall behavior in these environments.

  1. Reinforce and Maintain: Continue to reinforce the recall command regularly, even after your dog has mastered it. Practice recalls during every walk or outing, and periodically reinforce the behavior with treats or praise to maintain reliability.

Common Challenges and Solutions:

  • Ignoring the Recall Command: If your dog ignores the recall command, avoid repeating the command multiple times or chasing after them. Instead, use a cheerful tone of voice and encourage them to come to you by running away, crouching down, or using a toy as a lure.

  • Inconsistency: Inconsistency in training can confuse your dog and undermine their reliability. Be consistent with your commands, rewards, and expectations to reinforce the recall behavior.

  • Overcoming Distractions: If your dog struggles to respond to the recall command in the presence of distractions, start with lower-level distractions and gradually increase the difficulty over time. Use high-value rewards and maintain a positive attitude to keep your dog engaged and motivated.


Teaching your dog a reliable recall command is a rewarding and essential aspect of dog ownership. By following the principles of positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency, you can train your dog to come when called reliably in a variety of situations. Remember to start indoors, use high-value rewards, practice regularly, and gradually increase the level of difficulty as your dog progresses. With dedication and practice, you and your furry friend can enjoy the freedom and safety that comes with a strong recall command.