Saturday, January 23, 2010

Training your dog to come when called, reliability:

Use Positive reinforcement
Capture your dog doing the right thing (coming to you).
Set your dog up for success and reward the good acceptable behaviors.
Build a relationship with your dog, one that is built on trust, respect, and cooperation.

Play games that help strengthen the relationship
Name game
Start in an area without distractions
Say the dogs name (once), click/treat when the dog looks at you.
The goal is for the dog to respond to his name every time, to the point that it becomes muscle memory.
Slowly add distractions (if at any time your dog does not come, decrease the distractions a little.)

Watch-me Game -

Go Play Game -

Recall Game
Start from about 6 feet from the dog and then call him to you click/treat when he does. (Repeat all steps many times)
Increase distance
Call dog between two people back and forth
Call the dog from another room
Hide and call the dog so he has to find you and come to you.

Toy Recalls

Recall Races

Call your dog away from playing with another dog

Start all recall training on leash when your dog is a puppy, unless you are in a safe environment that your dog will not fail in.
Progress to long lines
Progress to off leash completely.


Calling your dog multiple times if they do not respond the first time.
Calling your dog to you for things that he may not like.
(Baths, to give medications, to clip nails) Just go and get the dog when if comes to things they may not like.
Calling the dog if you know they will not come. Just go get them or wait until they come to you and reward them for coming to you no matter how long it took.

Reward all check ins. (Every time the dog looks at you)
Reward anytime your dog comes back to you, even if you did not call him. Reinforce that being with you and coming to you is important. Reinforce a lot!
Reinforcement drives behavior!

Add an emergency recall
You could use a whistle for an emergency recall. -

Once your dog does know how to come when called, keep proofing it and keep practicing it. Do not expect that you dog will always know it; practice the recall for the entire life of your dog. If you learn Spanish and then never use it, you would forget it. The same goes for your dog!

Be Consistent!

Train, Train, Train


  1. Great tips Pam. Reliability can be tough to instill in stubborn dogs like Jack Russells. Consistency is so important!

  2. I recently came up with the idea of using Zooey's little-known (and therefore not ever used) middle name (Coco - the name she came with) as an emergency recall. I can't whistle to save my life, and didn't want to have to always have a whistle on me incase of an emergency). Despite all of my work with teaching her to respond to her name and "come", it's been impossible for me to keep others from overusing the commands so she's learned that she can ignore them! "Coco" is my little secret, and she thinks it means "yummy delicious meat", which to her is even more exciting than chasing the neighbors cat!