How to Teach a Dog to Come: Recall Training Guide

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA
By Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA. Reviewed by Veronica Higgs, DVM on May 5, 2024
A pet parent trains their pup.

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Teaching your dog to come when called can be a lifesaver—and a strong recall helps keep your relationship with your dog frustration-free.

Coming when called can be easy to teach, but it takes dedication, patience, and practice to get your dog to respond. It helps if you make training for this command easy and fun, so your dog learns that coming to you is a positive experience.

How To Teach a Dog To Come

You can teach your dog to come by following these steps:

  • Pick a word that is unique to your dog and not associated with another command. If he’s learned to ignore the word “come” use something like “here” instead.

  • Don’t use your dog’s name as your recall word – you probably say it all the time and the word you use for this cue needs to be special.

  • Grab a partner and dog treats and go to a quiet room in your house.

  • Kneel, say the word “here” once with a happy tone of voice. Whistle, clap your hands or make kissy noises to encourage your dog to run to you. He won’t know what “here” means at first, so the noises will help him to understand.

  • When your dog comes to you, give him the treat and a lot of praise.

  • Have your partner call your dog back and give another treat and more praise.

  • Repeat this process until your dog is racing from person to person each time you call.

Dog Recall Games

You can make it more challenging for your dog by hiding in another room. You’ll probably have to whistle a bit more to help give him clues. At this point training will seem like a game of hide and seek, which is exactly the idea. Have fun with it!

Once your dog seems comfortable with these exercises, move out to your yard or a safe, enclosed area. Working outside means you’ll be competing with distractions, so use a high-value treat. Depending on your outside set up, a training leash may be an effective and safe way to practice recall.

Dog Recall Training: What Not To Do

When practicing recall training, safety is the most important factor.

Do not try to test your call by placing your pet in off leash, unfenced situations as they could run away or get hurt. Recall should be practiced indoors, in a fenced-in area, or with a training leash.

Remember to make it fun. Do not lose your patience if your fur baby takes a few sessions to really get the hang of it or if they struggle with distractions. Practice makes perfect so stay at it and keep it fun and full of treats.

Make sure to work together as a team frequently to master your dog’s recall ability, and eventually your dog will come to you whenever he’s called. 


Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA

WRITTEN BY

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA

Animal Trainer


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