How to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called (4 Easy Steps)

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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Look Good at the Dog Park!

If you have ever been to a dog park, you may have very likely witnessed the following scenario: An owner calls his dog because it is time to go and the dog totally ignores the owner and runs the other way. You might think to yourself that either the dog has a listening problem or simply couldn't care less.

It's very likely that the dog couldn't care less. The reason for this behavior is because the owner has not invested enough time and effort into training the dog to respond to a good recall.

Teaching your dog to respond properly to a recall is a vital command. You can avoid teaching your dog to roll over or give a paw, but please make sure your dog learns the recall command. The reason why the recall command is so important is because one day it may potentially keep your dog out of harm's way. Many incidents could have been avoided if the dog obeyed and ran towards the owner.

For example, you are at a dog park and your dog runs away and heads toward a busy street or your dog is in the woods and starts chasing a potential rabid animal. In these cases, a recall can make the difference between safety and hazard.

Teaching a good recall is indispensable and should not take too much of your time. The real secret is to turn the recall training into something special and fun.

4 Steps to Teaching Your Dog to Come

Luckily, teaching your dog to come really isn't that hard. You simply need the right strategies and the determination to see the process through.

1. Start at Home

Go to your hallway and get a handful of small treats. Have a family member hold the dog at the end of the hallway and set yourself at the opposite end. Then call your dog in a friendly voice. Have your friend release the dog and as soon as he gets to you praise and give the treat. Then repeat exchanging places with your friend. Stay at the other end and call again.

This way, the dog learns that two good things happen when his name is called:

  • When he is called, he is freed from your friend.
  • When he gets to you, he gets praised and a yummy treat.

2. Upgrade to a Safe, Fenced Area

Now that your dog has become familiar with its name and all the good things that come with it, go to an open space outdoors where there are more distractions. Repeat from a distance. Have your friend hold the dog and just continue the training.

Outdoors, the exercise may get a little more challenging because there are sights, noises and smells that can distract your dog. Luckily, there will be plenty of good treats to keep him focused.

3. Call Him When He's Distracted

Now, let you friend relax and let the dog free again in the fenced safe area and catch him in a moment of distraction, such as sniffing the grass or barking at something. Call his name, if he comes he has passed the test in flying colors! The fact that he still paid attention to you rather than something else is great and the dog deserves lots of praise and treats!

If instead, he has ignored you, call once again in a louder voice; it could be he didn't think you were talking to him. Just give him a second chance. If your dog still ignores you, do not get frustrated. Instead, go and get him but do not get mad at him.

Practice a little longer on the recall, you need to turn the fact the dog comes to you an exciting event to look forward to.

4. Upgrade to the Dog Park

Here comes the moment of truth. With all the dogs around, it is hard for a dog to come to its owner, especially if it means it is time to go home. If you call your dog and as soon as he comes, you snap the leash on him and go home, the dog soon realizes that coming when being called is not a good thing.

Instead, call your dog, praise for him coming and allow him to play a few minutes with you without letting him get far. Call again, praise and repeat. This way the dog still associates your recall with something positive as playing and once the leash is snapped on continue to play a bit before heading home.

Two Main Rules When Teaching a Recall

Never Scold Your Dog for Coming to You.

Let's say you call the dog, he doesn't come at first and then he finally does. You are mad at him for not listening first time, so you scold him upon coming to you. This basically is the easiest way to teach your dog not to come anymore.

Another common instance is when you catch your dog doing something bad and you call him to you in an upset tone of voice. The dog reads you anger or frustration and feels afraid to come to you. These are examples of the easiest ways to adversely affect your recall, in some cases even permanently. You do not want this to happen, keep your recalls always on a positive note, which takes us to the other second rule.

Always Praise a Successful Recall.

Praise your dog lavishly, offer a favorite treat or give a nice tummy rub, just anything your dog loves. Always call your dog with an enthusiastic voice, promising good things to come.

If possible let him out and call him inside and let him find his food bowl already on the floor for him. You will easily end up this way with a puppy or dog that will always keep his ears erect in hope you will call him to you.

A good recall, therefore, can be a life saver. It may take some time and effort but it is definitely worth it. You never know what may happen and you may need your dog by your side immediately. Have your dog trained to obey promptly to your recall, it will be a great training lesson, an opportunity to praise your dog and best of all, you will look good when you call your dog at the park!

Further Reading

  • Secret Strategies for Training Your Dog to Come When...
    Does your dog come when called or is he sort of in a
  • How to Train Your Scent Hound Dog to Come When Calle...
    Learn effective strategies to polish your recall command with your scent hound. Also, understand why training these types of dogs can get so challenging at times!

© 2008 Adrienne Farricelli

Gordon on July 17, 2014:

I know it was 4 years ago the comment from Wendy. But I had to laugh a bit as my puppy springer is exact same knows all my tricks to get her back on the lead and I've been late for work because of her!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 02, 2013:

Look up my article and video on how to stop your dog from bolting out the door. Please use a leash for this training until you have reliable responses. Invest in high value treats, best of luck!

See also this article for more tips, it's for scent hounds but works well too for any other dogs:

Edna Glenn on April 01, 2013:

My husband and I have a 17 month old female pug. Annie is very loving and responds well to all our commands except recall. She is quick and sometimes slips out of the house. It is almost impossible to get her to come to us. We have tried snacks and and sometimes have found that just sitting down on the ground will get her to come to us. We have been told this is a trait of the pug breed and to them it is a game. We will certainly try all of your suggestions on recall training. If you have any other ideas regarding pug recall training specifically, please let us know.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 12, 2012:

A dog as such should never be allowed to run off. Get your collar and leash, keep your gate closed, don't open the door until he has the leash on. He is running away because he can and he is having fun doing so. Right now, he is at a stage known as "doggie adolescence" where many dogs literally pose a deaf ear to commands and may be testing. You need to continue being consistent during this testing time and not allow him to rehearse unwanted behaviors. Use your treats to reward wanted behaviors. Sit! great job! heel on the leash, wonderful! Make him learn that great things happen every time he behaves. If he is not leaving you alone for a single moment don't give him attention of any kind even yelling or touching or looking at him, is a form of attention, so ignore him totally and if he continues, just leave the room. Put him for success, give him loads of exercise, mental stimulation. He is most likely pestering you because he is bored and has nothing better to do. Stuff a kong and let him work on it, hide treats around the home, enroll him in a sport, take long walks with him, train him that pulling get him nowhere and walking next to you gets you walking. Best wishes!

Glen on October 11, 2012:


We have a part beagle-part lab-part dalmatian called Max. He's around a year and a half now and we've trained him all sorts of stuff, successfully; such as recall, fetch, sit, down, wait, drop it (picked up something he shouldn't) and leave (especially successful with his food, as he won't touch his food bowl unless we tell him he can).

However, we have times (that are getting more and more frequent recently) where he simply will not listen to anything you tell him; it's like he turns into a completely different dog! He'll climb on the counter and steal food, pester for attention constantly all day (I mean he won't leave you alone for a single minute, no matter how much or little attention you give him), he'll pull really badly on his leash, he'll run off before he's told he can, then won't come back... I completely lost him this evening and gave up looking for him, only to find him at the front door just after I got home.

What do I do with him? He's as good as gold sometimes; in fact, he was really good up until he started socializing with some more unruly dogs when out on walks, now he's almost unbearable to have around.

We've always used treats and lots of fuss when he's done good, but when he's running off, for miles, and ends up in farmers fields, terrorizing livestock, it's almost impossible not to scorn him. Please help!

Pat from United States on October 04, 2012:

You are right on the money, great article. This is how I train my dog. She will do anything for that snack.

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on August 18, 2012:

Thank you so much for writing this wonderful hub! My dog has a hard time coming back from running into the road when a jogger runs by. This will REALLY help me reward him for coming when I call before he GETS to the road. Yahoo!

Joshua Nyamache from Kenya on August 14, 2012:

I have come cross people who call their dogs but instead of coming to where they are they run away from them. These are the people who did not take their time to teach their dogs to respond when they are called. They mistreated their dogs in all ways including scolding them. I will recommend such people to read this article so as to have a better understanding of the need of making their dogs to respond positively when they call them.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 20, 2012:

Be on the look-out; will publish a hub soon on the topic, best wishes!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on July 18, 2012:

Very informative hub! After reading your hub, I realize that we have trained Angus right, from the start. Now, I have to train him not to bark when the other dogs are barking. Angus is in the Philippines now and he adopted the habbit of barking from our filipino dogs. Maybe you have any tips?

Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.

Liz Rayen from California on June 20, 2012:

I adopted my dog a year ago and for the most part she is excellent in coming when I call. However, I just moved up to the mountains and she has the forest for her backyard which includes critters and new smells to explore, so her attention to my calling her takes 2-5 times before she returns. I have had to really step up the praising her and for the most part it seems to be working.... unless there's a squirrel involved! lol Great up and useful tips! Thumbs up! Lisa :)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 20, 2012:

Thank you Angela. I have a better updated article on this. This is a bit old and was written at the beginning of my dog training career. Here is a better hub, it addresses scent hounds but it can work for any stubborn dog:/dogs/How-to-Train-Your-Scen...

Best wishes!

Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 20, 2012:

I really need to work on this with my "naughty" Dog! LOL I think this would establish a lot more than just his return! I will share this!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 29, 2012:

If she has the ball, she probably runs away when you call her because she thinks you are playing "keep away", try without the ball in an area with little distractions, here is a guide I made for scent hounds, but works with any dogs that needs a better recall:

Bri on April 28, 2012:

when i throw the ball, my dog gets it and runs away. whenever i called her to come she just ignores my voice and keeps running off with the ball. I even tried treats and when she sees the treats she ignores the ball and just jumps around wanting the treat.she is only 1 yr old. What do i do?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 27, 2012:

Try running away when calling your dog so he catches up to play with you. When he comes to you play a game of tug. Make it fun! You don't have to be a treat dispenser,but occasionally a treat is needed every now and then. Try some training sessions on a long line.

Bryan on January 27, 2012:

The treat thing works for a awhile much like the clicker training but it leaves you completely reliable on them. I'm not a treat dispenser! My DOG will jump thru hoops, dog a back flip, and wash my dishes for a treat. IF i don't have a treat forget it!!!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 04, 2012:

Dakota, I made a hub for obstinate cases, it addresses mostly scent hounds but it may certainly work for any breed, invest in a long line!

dakota on January 02, 2012:

also hes starting to get brave and wander across the street and i usaully have to go across and pick him up he only comes when were in the backyard or in the house also how do you get a dog to stop biting people ive been teaching that since he first came here. is it just because hes stubborn or i haven't been training him thouroghly?my grandma has been helping to train him.could he also be doing that because his last owner spoiled him and let him do whatever he wants i get frustrated when he doesn't come after ive called him ,like 10 times my grandma tought our other dog to come and her old dogs(which was 13 other dogs)but she cant get him to come again please answer this pllllllllleeeeassse

dakota on January 02, 2012:

ive tried doing that to my 5 month old chihauhau/pug mix but he never pays attention hes always distracted and when i do call him he just barks at me or run away he knows his name i taught it to him when he was 3 in a half but he still doesn't come please help me

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 19, 2011:

Sanvid, she sure is attached to you, but some dogs find seeing other dogs extra-exciting! Just think if you were in another country and found people from your same hometown, wouldn't you feel tempted to go talk to them? Dogs are happy to meet other dogs, especially when they don't see them on a daily basis.

Despite the saying ''you can't teach an old dog tricks'' dogs can learn any time! You are perhaps better off investing in a long line, a long rope you can tie on your dog to keep her safe when you are walking nearby dogs. Since she was able to go greet the dogs today, granted and guaranteed she will try it every time because it feels rewarding. I just wrote an article on how to train hounds which are the most challenging dogs to train to come when called, while your dog is a retriever these tips will surely benefit you and her. Here is the article, and best wishes!

Sanvid from Chennai, Tamil Nadu on December 19, 2011:


Thanks a lot for you valuable tips! I just came back retrieving my 20m old lab Jeni and am really worried :( she is hyper active and ran away from leash and went straight into pack of stray dogs (I'm in Chennai, India). luckily I was following her and was there just in time to save her from those 6-7 dogs who were ready to pound on her. This incident triggers me lot of questions 1. Is she not loving me/family trying to run free at every opportunity? 2. Does she know to come back home? 3. She jumped into those dogs for playing for sure as she was never aggressive, but how to teach her that it is unsafe for her?

I'll try your tips to teach come command right away. However will she be learning these at 20 months old? Any inputs/suggestions is greatly appreciated!

Few details about her. She is hyperactive only when I'm near her. If I'm not home she is calm and gentle with my wife and visiting kids. She is always friendly and have not seen her aggressive until now. I play with her for 30 minutes to an hour every day fetching balls, chasing and doing tricks and my wife plays with her during the day. Please let me know if you need any specific details on her behavior and our interactions.

Thanks a lot for your help!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 03, 2011:

Sounds like she may need a stronger foundation of training and this is done through practice. I would enroll her in classes so she can learn to mind you more under strong distractions (being around other dogs). She should not be kept off lead; the moment she takes off she is only learning to misbehave and ignore you. The barking and pulling is mostly out of frustration from being unable to go say hi to the dogs. In classes, she will learn more control and will bond to you more so you can take better charge. It can be done, I fostered a dog behaving similarly and with lots of work she eventually learned to calm down around other dogs. Only once calm, she was then allowed to go interact. Best wishes!

vivienne on October 30, 2011:

hi, i have been reading all your comments and hints and tips which i have been doing most of( some work to apoont other dont)

i have a 10 month, 32.5kg GSD bitch who has now been speyed and we have had her since she was 6 weeks ld, fantasticly friendly dog towards people, our cats at home and our friends dogs. however...................

the momenent she spies another dog in her sight she is off- charging, tail wagging wanting to play and be chased, face and neck nipping other dogs same size, having fun does not come when called unless you shoo her away and keep walking will eventually follow , on lead contantly bark and trys to charge any other dog or cat and without the Gencon would easily pull me off my feet., she never acted like this before she was 6 months it all started with 2 instances..................... first there was an intruder in the back agrdens of our semidetatched home she went beserk now chases neighbours cats growls at them and is highly preditorial of the garden alerting everyone she is out. i put her on the lead out there mostly fine unless the other neighbours staffi's are put barking at her so she attacks the fence to gt at them. take some time and pulling to get her in and calm.

the second situation was the next morning- we were i our local park playing ball walking and recalling when she noticed 2 local rotweillers that she has saw everymorning since she started going out. she eyed them and egntly wandered over tail wagging- i dont know what they are like as they are never off lead and the owner says the male is quite protective of its mother she kept walking at us so kyra went to them the lady backed off but kyra ignpred any calls and proceded into a blocked area, got her out tail still wagging but still not coming and not on lead to turn right around to a small terrier barking and snapping at her( it has isues all noise no bite) with their new puppy by its side, so kyra snapped back and the owner kicking her feet out shouting no took 10 mins to efinally get her away, got her on lead praised her for not actually killing the wee terrier. a week later she went into season qand started acting all posesive of anything of mine including me, came out of season and 2 weeks later seasoned again, by this point her barking at other dogs was all the tie in the garden barking at the birds, bushes anything she did not know. the vet sid her hormones were raging and she had cysts all over her womb and overies put her on medication to help calm her- it had to a point i am no longer an object to be protected and my hgandbag is no longer her puppy but the barking and charging persists- she has been enrolled in flyball an loves it( if there are no other dogs about other than our neighbours whom swiftly puts her in place( its scarry how a small colie can be in control of a GSD) yet now unless my husband is withme she does nothing asked of her- i do her training, her walkining 4 times a day at least 2miles every walk practice on the playing feild playwith her ball and she comes but i cqannot ger her to come fully to me i have to sit on the bench or ground or leanagainst the basketball court. i feed her and eat 1 bit out her dish before iput her food down- is she trying to dominate me- helphelphelp, i lover her to pieces but am at the end of my tether and need help

lulu on October 13, 2011:

Thanks for the great tips! I will definitely try them. I have a 5 month old Shih Tzu who loves to run in circles around the couch and see if my daughter can catch her. So when I call her, whether inside or out, she thinks the game is on and will run from me. Hopefully this method will teach her the difference between the recall and the game!

Lorelei on October 02, 2011:

Great read! I have realized that I never play with my dog. I am always training, walking, or letting her sleep on my feet, but we never play together like two dogs. So I have incorporated play time with my dog as a treat in the hopes that she will learn to associate me with praise and play. thanks again.

Crissy on September 24, 2011:

I have a 6 mOnth old cocker spaniel who has been to about 8 puppy classes and regularly meets with another cocker to play . Sadly if out and about and he sees another dog he is gone and will ignore all come commands until he is ready to come back . He simply wants to play . He will listen to the come command on other occasions. We use treats to reward him and always praise him when he does come back . How can I get him to come when other dogs are about ?

TheEpicJourney from Fairfield, Ohio on August 28, 2011:

Another great hub Alexadry! Zoe is doing well on her recall training when she is less excited but we still have some major issues when she is really excited. That's usually when it's most important she listens! I really like your method of training in the dog park. My wife and I are certainly guilty of calling her, leashing her, and walking out. Starting our next visit i'm using your advice, thanks!!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 19, 2011:

A good idea would be to take him for a few sessions of obedience training. What benefits him the most is that in obedience training he is required to focus under distractions. There are many dogs around -many times up to 10- and the dog must learn to ignore them and stay focused only on his master.

Alternatively, you can plan some training sessions with a friend in a yard. Your friend keeps your dog on leash while you walk quickly backwards calling his name. As soon as your friend feels tension on the leash, he leaves the leash so your dog comes to you. At that point you bend down on your knees to welcome him and give him a treat, but not regular treats, instead 100 dollar treats like hot dogs, chicken, steak, etc.

I know you said your dog is not much food motivated, but in a controlled setting as a yard, there are little distractions. He may not be food motivated in areas with birds, squirrels etc, but in a controlled setting things may change, you will be surprised!

Gradually, ask him to come from greater distances, always happy tone of voice, walking backwards quickly almost as if to invite him to a fun game. Never grab him..just lure him to you with a treat each time.

After adding distance you can add distractions, and here your friend's dog comes into play. Have your friend's dog leashed and in a sit at a distance. Practice the recall. If your dog goes near your friend and the dog tell your friend to take a step forward and send him away.

Practice, practice, practice..then try very gradually to ask the recall on walks. Remember it is ok to act a bit silly to grab your dog's attention. You have to be the most interesting thing out there after all..

Again I think an obedience class is the best route, to have solid recall you also need to have a strong bond with your dog. A dog that leaves the owner behind and just does as it pleases needs training and a stronger bond that can only be obtained with lots of training..

In school to become a dog trainer, we used to test the bond between owner and dog by having the owner wander away. The dogs with a stronger bond where looking for their owner, the dogs with a weaker bond carried out their lives exploring their environment without worrying much about the owner's whereabouts... so i think obedience classes in your case can bring out the best in your dog, I hope this helps, best wishes!

Andrew on July 19, 2011:

I have a one year old lab/beagle mix. He loves playing with other dogs and chasing birds and squirrels. He gets two long walks a day with our friend's dog (they are best friends and tire each other out). He is able to be off leash and comes when I call him about 60% of the time. The other times he either does not come at all or comes when he feels like it (this is usually when he finds something to dig after or roll in). He is completely NOT food motivated so having a treat is not really enticing for him. He is also a hyper dog that does not want to be petted in the woods because he does not want to be slowed down. I feel as if I do not have any way to entice him to come and am getting very frustrated. If i keep him on leash he does not burn off enough energy and he will be hyper at home. Please help with any possible ideas. He also loves playing with other dogs so when another dog approaches there is no chance of him coming and this also worries me.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 19, 2011:

KaiaW: I would buy a long line and boundary train her. Here is a link on how to do that, in case you do not have a fence:

KaiaW on July 19, 2011:

We have a 10 month old cockapoo who will do a recall for a treat. But we have a really big problem where ( like you pointed out in your example) she runs out into the street and will not listen to us calling her. This is a really big concern because she will run in front of cars and she's small enough that they won't see her coming. Normally I'm the one who has to chase after her, because my dad has MS and cannot physically catch her when that happens and my mom isn't around during the day.However, I'm about to go to college and I unfortunately can't take her with me and will not be home for several months at a time. She has had obedience and will come for a treat, but for some reason no treat means no coming when called.

Right now my ultimate fear is getting a call from my parents at college telling my puppy got run over and is dead. Please help!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 18, 2011:

You are asking a bit too much. Start training a recall from a low distraction area and then move on to areas with little distractions. Make coming to you fun,run away from him as you call him and then when he gets to you drop treats. Move to higher distracting areas as he gets good at this. Consider that even some great trained dogs are oblivious to the owner's recall when in a park with all the great distractions there.

You need to become the most interesting thing in the park. Use treats. Dried freeze liver makes most dogs drool. When it it time to go, tie a ball to a stick and lure him to you calling him while walking backwards moving the ball to attract him further. When he arrives drop a nice pile of treats, as he eats them move farther away and repeat the recall, dropping the treats on the grass as he comes to you..repeat one more time and then put the leash on while he is eating the treats BUT do not leave as of yet.. he needs to learn that leash on does not mean you are leaving... play with him another five minutes while on the leash and then walk home... A long line, basically a very long leash would be helpful in training this Husky, my best wishes~!

Dennis on July 14, 2011:

Hi I have a 8 month old huskey. Bless him I love him so much, but there is one thing that i can't seem to do is recall. I take out with me to the park treats balls and a whistle. He don't run off as such but when i call he runs in the oppisite direction. Its like he knows its time to go home. He always like to walk or run at least 10 feet away from me at all times. Sometimes he will just dart off for a few minutes then all of a sudden he comes back. Most of the time stinking of pooh. Please please help.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 14, 2011:

It sounds like your dog was too aroused by the abnormal circumstance to listen to your calls. Your dog was barked at and snapped at, so his first reaction was to defend himself, it could have gone much worse! If you want a perfect recall, I would recommend dog obedience classes, where your dog will learn to respond in the middle of other dogs and people. Since it looks like this man stimulated his prey drive have a long leash on him and have a person volunteer running around and try to call him to you, and see if he responds. If not, try from a greater distance and then work from there. It sounds like over all you have a good boy, and the circumstances were pretty distracting with 2 dogs attacking him and this guy running around. So do not let this episode put you down and instead use it as an incentive to better train. Best wishes!

rachel on May 14, 2011:

I have a 15 month old Rotti boy, who is a very happy, friendly & sociable dog both with dogs & humans, he does all the usual commands sit, wait & he does these all the time & he even recall's, that is until today!! We met 2 spanial's on our local field & instantly he bounded over to say hello as usual but!! the other 2dogs started to bark & go for him, one of them snapped at him & it was screaming loudly at my dog, so my dog tried to get to this dog im not sure if he wanted to fight it or if he just wanted see what was wrong & wanted to know why this dog was making the noise, I tried my usual recall but he was having none of it, i shouted to the man just stand still and i will get him away from you, he didn't listen & carried on running round in circles franticly, then my dog left him and went over to the other dog who was at this time up in the owners arms, now my dog made no attempt to challenge this dog because it was calm although visibly frightened, i called to my dog to stand & wait which he did, which was fantastic so i praised him for listening, then i apologized for my dogs reaction & i explained that he had never acted this way before i have had my dog since he was 5 weeks old and i have taught him very well & i trust him 100%, I made my dog sit & wait calmly watching the 2dogs walk away, but my question is did my dog act this way & not listen to his recall because the other dog showed so much fear, that it made my dog react like that.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 26, 2011:

In a case like this where your dog ignores you even if you call, and run away in the opposite direction the only piece of advice I have is to enroll in group obedience classes with focus exercises. Your dog will learn to pay attention to you despite distractions of other dogs nearby.It takes time, but this is one of the biggest reasons to enroll in classes: dogs learn to focus more on owners than on other dogs.. and the bond between dog and owner increases.. a great investment! best wishes!

Robin. on April 26, 2011:

We got our dog Indy from a council pound he was 6 months old has been desexed. Not sure of his mixed breeds, we were told Bull terrier, Lab cross but I only see a bit of Bull terier in his face and head, he is 40kgs in weight, so maybe Greatdane as he is very tall. He has a fantastic friendly temper and wants to play with everyone.

He walks great on leash for me (has stopped lunging at other dogs while on leash walking if I make him sit). Sits for his food, stays and won't come inside until I say so(99 of the time. This he does for me not asgreat for the kids.

I have used your tips for a couple of months Indy will not come if there is any dog within sight better with people now. He is not toy or food oriented in any way, does not have a favourite treat (other than other dogs!!!).

I am lucky that I have a group of people with dogs who Indy can run and play with off leash in the morning but he absolutely ignores the come call. He will stop, look at me when I call him and go on his merry way!

He gets a long walk in the morning, a play with the other dogs I mentioned a couple of hours later and another play just before dark with my kids and I.

He will play with just my kids and I with a ball or a tug toy. But he is gone if another dog comes past. We have to grab him quick as he will basically charge towards the dog wanting to play and as he is so big it usually scares the **##* out of them. He always stops short of them, does not go all the way up to them straight away but will not let me leash him for a more controlled meet and greet. Which is my preferred method of greeting other dogs. Loose leash, him sitting relatively calmly by my side as they walk up to us. HE DOES THIS RELATIVLY WELL BUT IF HE SEES THE OTHER DOG BEFORE US AND WE CAN'T GET HIM HE IS OFF.



Sorry about the caps.

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on April 02, 2011:

Great training tips here. I am about to get my second puppy of a less trainable breed and I was wondering how am I going to manage this possible problem. Now I know how to begin with him.

MyMastiffPuppies on August 16, 2010:

These are some really good tips. We bought our two mastiffs when they were already past 1 yr. The previous owners told us they would get in their fence or kennel if you said "cage". I really didn't believe them at first but sure enough even the first time we tried it, it worked. They did an excellent job training them but with our female you have to keep reinforcing this command, she likes to pretend she can't hear you sometimes. But she is such a sweetheart, I can't possibly get mad at her. Thanks again for the tips because when we have puppies, this will really help.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 16, 2010:

Some labs are hyper active and may appear as if they have an attention deficit disorder. Calm this hyper puppy by taking him for long walks and petting him only when he is sitting calmly.

Your dog is very smart though. He comes to you but only when he sees a treat. Give him some time. Learning a name may take some days of repetition. Have you already tried the hallway exercise where a helper holds the dog and you call him? If it does not work, it may be harder when outdoors..

If your dog is running away when you go towards him, he has basically learned that he can play a nice game of catch with you! Dogs love to be chased around. Try instead something else...When you need him to come close to you, call his name in an excited manner and instead of going towards him run away from him. Guaranteed he should come near you as you are catering to his prey drive. Once near you praise and treat... some dogs need to be lured more to come when called, but if you call his name in a playful tone of voice, shake a toy and run away from him instead of going TOWARDS HIM, you will initiate a fun game to your advantage... this should stimulate him to come to you because it is a really fun game! best of luck!

Honey B on August 16, 2010:

I have a 1 year old lab that doesn't obey the come command, at home , he just sits and look at me when called only if i show him a treat . and im havin diffcult time to teach him the off leash training cz when i take off the leash n he sees me coming towards him he just runaway the opposite direction and never listens to me.

sometimes i think that he might have a hearing problem or a loss of concentration.



kpcwriting from New York, New York on August 12, 2010:

I really enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for this one.

J Beadle from Wisconsin on July 17, 2010:

Great hub and advice. We are seeking out tips for our new puppy and this one helps. Rated up.

budlib on July 08, 2010:

My 1 year old lab mix has wonderful recall when I walk him off leash in open areas where there are no people close by or dogs in sight. The problem I experience is I quickly loose his focus if a person or dog suddenly appears to distract his attention. He becomes so distracted by the new person that he doesn't even appear to hear me much less obey me.

Any advice?

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on July 01, 2010:

My puppy will be 8 weeks old tomorrow (July 2) and the first day I brought her home (Tuesday) she came when I called her. Yesterday and today, nothing can coax her to come. No treats. No toys. No friendly voice. She just starts whining like "why are you leaving me?"

I got down on my knees and called her like I did on the first day. When she didn't come, I tried walking away and again she started whining. THEN she followed me because she realized I really was leaving.

She'll eventually learn to come, right?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 04, 2010:

As my article points out you must start in quiet areas and then upgrade to places with more distractions.

violet on May 03, 2010:

i have a little pom/corgi he was very easy to potty train a little harder to stop biting but i just can,t get him to come when i call him, he just ignores me and keeps on running around , helpppppp.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 09, 2010:

Seems like you have a social butterfly on your hands! What you can do is get one of his favorite treats and teach him from a distance to pay attention to you. Find a distance where he does not react to people and work on getting his focus, call his name and praise for his attention even if for one second, by giving him his favorite treat. (hotdog slices, pieces of grilled chicken, cheese, or trainer's favorites: freeze dried liver). Then once he gets the message, gradually increase the distance to other people. Go slowly and gradually (usually this takes a week or two). The thing here is that you must prove to be more interesting than other people and if you have treats and a food oriented dog very likely he will go to you. Always praise lavishly for focusing on you and ignoring the people nearby. Do you keep him off leash? I would start this training with him on leash, until he gets it well and then try off leash. Being off leash is a privilege for dogs and they must earn their off leash reliability. Going up to anybody, is not sign of being off leash reliable. Needs some work, but with time, patience and effort, you will get results.

angel24 on April 07, 2010:

Anyone have prob. of dog going to complete strangers as if they were long-lost buddies,but TOTALLY ignoring you??? my 18 month old jack Russel/Cairn cross is infuriatingly good at this.In fact the more feeble-minded /drunk/dodgy the person -the nmore delight he shows!!he went to a young guy the other day who just happened to click his fingers as we were passing- he would just stare at me for doing this as if I were completely!!

Linda Kay R from Kentucky on March 04, 2010:

Great advise! I think that consistency is the key. That has always been my problem with training our Golden Retriever. She can sit, stay, shake, lay down but if there are distractions forget it!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 30, 2010:

I like long comments because they provide lots of details. A good idea would be to take him for a few sessions of obedience training. There are many dogs around and the dog must learn to ignore them and stay focused only on his master.

An alternative would be to keep him leashed in the dog park, I know...what sense does it make to keep a dog leashed in a dog park if a dog park is to have fun? Well, he will eventually get to play but only after he has learned to control himself. Keep him leashed so when he sees his hyperactive friends, he will remember you are there.

Expect to be pulled a lot but he must learn that you are there and in control. Most likely he will look at his friends but now that he is leashed it is easier to get his attention to you and perhaps some treats. Redirect his attention to you and possibly ask him to focus on some obedience, like sits, lay downs and paw. Let him know you are still there and that it is rewarding to have you near.

If he cannot focus on you at all, it may take lots of time or you may need help from an obedience trainer. Only once he sits quietly and only when he seems in control release him to go play. If plausible, try to get some of the owners of hyperactive dogs to help you keep him under control on the leash. Tell them to have their dogs run nearby while you walk him on the leash from a distance. Then gradually get closer until he seems to not respond much.

This is a good way to make him calmer. Only once he is calmer, he should be more likely to respond to you. Like once calm on the leash near these dogs, call his name and give a reward for responding. Then take the leash off and call him to you without the leash on. Then try letting him play a bit and calling him. If he does not come to you go to him and put his leash on.

Some people find that the best way to get their dog's attention, is to call their name and start running. The dog may lose interest in the dog come to you running for a fun game.

I am really not much a fan of dog parks, because often it is a mix of stranger dogs that you do not know. Your dog may run up to a dog that may not have a good temperament and who know what's next... Play dates are much better options, getting a friend and their dog to play in a back yard in a better controlled environment. Hope this helps polish his recall skills. Best wishes.

lauren on January 29, 2010:


i have a springer spaniel who is 10 months old , when i take him to dog parks he comes when i call him most of the time but when he see's a dog that likes being chased or chasing him ( a hyperactive dog ) then he doesn't listen to anything that i say , he just runs around with the other dog and will not come back , even if i use his favorite treats such as : cheese , ham , or a tennis ball he doesn't care about what i have in my hand, he just wont leave the other dog alone . It usually takes about 20 minutes to get him away from the other dog , i don't know how to stop this because he just seems to get focused on playing with the dog and forgets about me and what i am saying to him , he is frustrating for me too because he is perfect if he doesn't see a hyperactive dog , he retrieves tennis balls and drops them , and if he smells a calm dog then he comes back the first time i say his name and sits by my feet . I dont know if i could ever change the way he behaves around hyperactive dogs , do you think he could ever be calmer around hyperactive dogs ?

Sorry for the long comment ,

Thanks x

Wendy on January 19, 2010:


I have a crazy springer spaniel who never goes off , but hates coming back home, it has been really difficult recently as he knows every trick up my sleeve in terms of getting him back on the lead. I spent nearly three hours the other day getting him back, so i am keeping my fingers crossed these tips will work!!!

gracenotes from North Texas on October 13, 2009:

I have a little dog that I rescued 6 months ago. Our problem is not the dog park, particularly. But there are plenty of other situations where she doesn't do a recall reliably. I need to work on this, and I will try, using some of your techniques.

My dog does "Sit, Stay, and Down" very well. I wish recall was better.

All my other dogs would always do a recall very effectively.

So it's frustrating.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 09, 2009:

Good luck with your new pup. Among all the commands I think this is the most important to master!

Michi on July 09, 2009:

Wow those are awesome tips i am using those when i get my new puppy in a few days i am starting as soon as i get her!

byee on April 29, 2008:

Wow, great tips! My husband and I are definitely having a difficult time training our 9-month-old puppy pug to "come". We've tried standing on opposite sides of our home and calling her back and forth, but she will stop when she realizes there are no more treats. We'll definitely try having one person hold the dog back and the other person calls her to come. Maybe that will work better! Eventually my dream is that all three of our dogs will come every single time when called, without fail. I know this can potentially save their lives when, let's say, they accidentally run out the front door and into the street. I wanna know that I can count on my dogs obeying my command no matter what. We'll see!

If you’re practicing recall with your dog, always make sure you have lots of tasty treats. Don’t skimp, dry biscuits or kibble are not exciting enough to reinforce recall. Use meat, hot dogs, eggs, freeze dried duck treats from Stella & Chewy’s – something really yummy.

The more you repeat yourself, the more your dog will learn to tune you out. If you call her ten times before she comes back, she’ll notice that she doesn’t really have to come the first time you call her.

Don’t give her the option to ignore you. Only call her when you think there’s a good chance she’ll come back. Don’t call her if she’s sniffing, or running after a bird. But, do call her if she’s about to dash into the road.

If your dog won’t come, just go get her. Or, wait until she finishes sniffing or running after birds. Just don’t let yourself become a broken record.

Teach your dog to come EVERY time you call

By: Judy Luther
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance

The most important behavior you can teach your dog is to come when called. Coming when called is a life saving behavior that should never be taken lightly, and should always be reinforced with praise and/or a food reinforcer. By habitually posting dog training lessons on this pet insurance company’s page, it is my hope you will use these tips and work with your dog to make her the best she can be!

In this article I am going to teach you how to train your dog to come to an emergency recall. This type of recall is used when the dog MUST come immediately when you call him. It is used in emergency situations, such as when your dog is about to run into the street with a car approaching, or other life and death situations.

Before I explain the emergency recall, let’s talk about why some dogs don’t come in the first place. Many of my clients tell me their dogs used to come when called, but now, for some reason, have stopped coming when called. Most often this is because we use the “come” to have the dog do something he doesn’t want to do. We call our dogs to “come” inside while they are playing in the yard, stopping the fun. We ask our dogs to “come” for a bath or nail trim. We ask them to “come” and put them into their crate so we can leave for work, etc. Soon the dog starts equating the word “come” with something undesirable. Of course, they don’t want to come when something bad may happen. Many dog insurance companies, behaviorists, and veterinarians alike will tell you that if a dog equates “coming” with something unenjoyable, she will likely ignore your request.

So let’s get started. First you will want to find a reinforcer that your dog loves. My dogs will work for just about any food treat, but I bring out the big guns for practicing the emergency recall. Yes, this means a trip to the grocery store for roast beef, grilled chicken pieces, or even steak. Cut your treats into small pieces, you will be using a lot of treats to do this type of training, so you do not want to be stingy.

Next, you will pick a word you will use to call your dog for the emergency recall. My cue word is “here,” one of my trainer friends uses “now” a student of mine uses the word “yippeee”. Pick any cue word you would like, just make sure it is a word you can say quickly and loud enough for the dog to hear from a distance. You will not use the word “come” for this exercise. The emergence recall is for emergencies only not the more casual come when called.

You are now ready to teach your dog to come to your emergency recall cue word.

Start inside your house. Wait until your dog is walking towards you, say your cue word in a happy voice, and when your dog comes to you, start treating him. Continue treating for 30 seconds. You are conditioning your dog that the cue word means good things are going to happen, in this case, yummy treats.

You will repeat this exercise 3 times a day, every day. Only call your dog using the “emergency recall” cue word when you are 100% positive she is going to come to you. Remember: this cue word should not be used for a casual come. Start building some distance between you and your dog when you call her.

Next, try calling her from another room. Continue to practice calling your dog from various locations in your home. Do not take this exercise outside until you have it perfected inside your house.

When you move this exercise outside you should reduce the distance between you and your dog. You want to set your dog up to succeed. As you increase the difficulty of the behavior such as practicing outside with lots of distractions, you will reduce other criteria of the exercise. As the dog is succeeding with the emergency recall outside, you will increase the distance between you and your dog.

Once your dog is reliably coming to your emergency recall cue word, you can reduce the number of times you practice. I still like to practice this exercise at least once a day.

If your dog has trouble with any of the steps of this exercise, go back to where your dog was successful and continue to practice.

Your goal is for your dog to immediately run to you anytime you use the emergency recall cue word.

To recap the emergency recall
1) Choose an easy to remember and say cue word. Avoid the word come.
2) Use a treat your dog LOVES. Not just some old stale dog biscuit.
3) Until learned, say the cue word only when you know your dog will come to you 100% of the time.
4) Practice 3 times a day
5) When rewarding the come, treat (or reinforce) your dog with the yummy treats for 30 seconds.

This technique really will save your dog’s life. One of my class room students recently shared a success story. While my student was in his front yard with his dog – off leash, the kids across the street came out to play. The dog (one of the doodle breeds) decided to say hello to the kids. “Doodle’s” owner could see a car coming down the street and his dog getting ready to cross. The doodle’s owner said he fumbled for his cue word for what seemed like an hour, then yelled in the happiest voice he could muster “BACK”! (as in come “back”). Of course Mr. Doodle turned and trotted happily back to his owner. Tail wagging the whole time. Oblivious to what could have happened.

5 Fresh and Fun Ways to Teach Your Dog or Puppy to Come

Here's five fun and surprising new ways to teach your dog or puppy that prized command: "Come."

Come seems to be the universal benchmark for a well-trained dog. When I ask my clients what they want to get out of working with me, they rarely stray from the script: “I want my dog to come the second I call her.”

It’s a worthy goal, and an important one too—especially if the dog is anywhere near traffic, wildlife, or other people and animals.

But—and this is a very big but—dogs are not like toaster ovens or television sets: you can't program them. So while you can teach a dog to come pretty reliably, all dogs will have one distraction that they can’t put off. Maybe it’s a squirrel, or another dog, or people wearing hats. Whether that distraction triggers fear, anger, or joy, if it materializes in just the wrong moment, you may be left with an empty collar.

Dogs are much more like young children, who don’t always come the second they are called either. Here’s the question: Would you ever let a toddler out of your sight near a roadway, a cavorting coyote, or a group of strangers? I hope not.

Promise me this: even after I’ve taught you how to teach a reliable "Come," you’ll keep your dog leashed in trafficked areas. (My dogs respond reliably to all directions, but I wouldn’t dream of unleashing them in unpredictable areas.) My motto: If I can’t tell what’s going to happen next, my dog can’t either.

Now here are five Quick and Dirty Tips to help you teach your dog to "Come."

Watch the video: Teaching Come-When-Called: First Steps

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