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How to teach my dog to come back to me when I call them

Here's the trick for recall training -

Start out one step at a time!


There is no point in trying to get your dog to come back to you from 100 yards away, if they won't come to you in the house, or come in from the garden. So, our training advice if you have recall problems is to go right back to basics and start literally one step at a time.

Here are some basic exercises, to get you started......

Step 1 : Teach your dog that coming to you is worthwhile

Hold a small tasty treat in your hand - hold your hand flat if you can, and hide the treat between your thumb and your palm. Your dog should be quite close to you. Put your hand in front of their nose and let them sniff the treat. Now, pretending that your dog's nose is glued to your hand, move your hand very slowly towards your knees, When your dog is at your knees - say "GOOD", and give your dog the treat. Repeat that 3 or 4 times - just one step remember.

Now repeat that a couple of times with no food in your hand - so hold your hand exactly the same way. Move your hand towards your dogs nose, then move your hand towards your knees. Your dog will follow - you have just taught them a hand signal for recall! When they get to your knee, say "GOOD", and give them a treat from your pocket.

Practice that a few times, sometimes with food in your hand and sometimes without. Always, at this stage, give your dog a treat when they get to you.

Gradually start to take one or two steps away from your dog, and work to building this up to 10 steps. (You'll be walking backwards - so take the greatest of care and don't trip!)

Once you can see that your dog knows the hand signal, then use a word - here's the important point - 1. get your dogs attention (just make any noise), then 2. Say "puppy come", then 3. show your hand signal then 4. reward your dog for coming to you.

Then go to a different place and practice building this up - in many rooms in the house, in the front garden, the back garden, on the patio, in the park, and other walks.

Whistle Training . a wee note.....

A whistle is useful because it sounds different from your normal "come" word, and can be heard through other noise, and wind. You can use a whistle or whistle yourself - silent or noisy - it's your preference. Get a handful of extremely tasty treats (fishy treats are excellent). Decide what whistle code you are going to use (perhaps 3 short blasts). Then repeat a series of

whistle->lure the dog to you->reward

a dozen times. Continue doing this a few times a day for a couple of weeks. Gradually increase the distance of the recall, and start practising whistling your dog from various places in the house, and in from the garden and out to the garden for instance. Don’t forget to whistle train out on walks too.

  • At this stage, it's really really important that your dog NEVER fails to come to you when you blow the whistle or say 'come' - so set things up for success.
  • If your dog's recall problems include aggressive behaviour, please contact a trainer, behaviourist for help. It is important to deal with the root cause of this aggression.
  • Always take care when using long lines or extending leads - they can be dangerous - and either wrap round your legs, or hurt your hand if the line pulls through your hands.
  • If your dog is prone to biting, nipping, chewing or jumping when using food treats, then please also contact a behaviourist or trainer for help.

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