Training Recall: How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

Training Recall: How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

One of the most critical “tricks” you can teach your dog is to come when called. Professional dog trainers call this skill “recall.” Every dog should learn this behavior, and every dog owner should make teaching a strong recall a priority in training.

Even puppies as young as 8 weeks old can start learning to come when called. The sooner you start, the more you can reinforce that coming when called is always a rewarding choice for your dog, regardless of the distractions that may be present.

Being able to recall your dog may one day save their life. You may need it if they slip the leash, go running towards a busy intersection, or are heading for some other danger that they are not aware of.

This article will give you tried and true techniques to start training your dog to come when called, how to continually reinforce this behavior, and common mistakes to avoid.

Decide on a Recall Cue

The first thing to do when training your pooch to come when called is to decide on the cue that you want to use.

Keep in mind that it will be important down the road to enforce the recall cue by using a “time out” if your dog fails to come to this cue. For that reason, it is best to use a cue other than your dog’s name. You don’t want your dog to think they have to come to you every time they hear their name, and you don’t want to be put in the position of enforcing a recall everytime they don’t.

Instead, choose a specific cue such as “Come!” or a specific sound such as a whistle or clapping sound. It is okay to also use their name, followed by the sound. Many trainers teach their canines to look at them when their name is called, followed by an action cue. Just keep in mind that the Recall Cue should be more than just your dog’s name.

Decide on Your Reward Marker

If you have done any training based on positive reinforcement, then you already know that your goal is to pair a specific sound, called a marker, with a reward, such as food. This allows you to let your dog know exactly when they are “doing it right” and will greatly accelerate any training.

The marker should be a sound. It can be a click from a clicker designed for dog training, or even a special word such as “Yes!” which is always followed by a food reward, even if you made a mistake in your timing.



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