We all want our dogs to come when called. It’s also one of the most important things you should teach your dog. Today I’m going to teach you how to train your dog to come to you reliably.

In order to teach your dog to come when called, first we need to look at the reasons why they don’t come when we call them.

  • They don’t know the behaviour and don’t know the value of it – you probably didn’t show your dog what you want from him when you say “come”.
  • The behaviour is not practised enough or not proofed with distractions – speaks for itself.
  • They will not come if they developed problematic/negative association – if you scold your dog right after he comes to you or tell him how bad he was doing something you didn’t want him to do (before he came to you), he will associate the cue (and the action behind it, which is coming to you) with negative consequences.

Once we know the reasons why dogs don’t come to us when called, we can start teaching them the behaviour.

First thing you need to do is simply introduce the behaviour and the cue.

You should as always start in a distraction free environment.

This is what you need to do:

Create a set up where the dog does what you want him to do and gets rewarded for it.

Do it by getting your dogs attention simply by calling his name (make sure that he knows his name and likes when you say it, you can find out how to do it here). Wait until your dog gets really close to you and toss him a treat away from yourself. Your dog will most likely go to get the treat and return to you to get more. As your dog is returning from getting the treat introduce the cue “come“. Reward your dog for coming back.
Repeat it few times and your dog will start to associate the action of coming towards you with the cue “come”.

When your dog is coming back to you when called, now is the best time to introduce the release cue. My release cue is “free”, but you can choose whatever you like to be your release cue. Try to use a word that you don’t usually use in everyday speech.

This is how to do it.

When your dog comes to you, tell him to sit (make sure he’s in front of you) and reward him. Wait a moment before you toss another treat making sure that your dog’s attention is on you. When your dog is in sit position in front of you offering eye contact, entice him to move by saying the release cue and tossing a treat away from yourself.

Remember to practice it as much as possible in a distraction free environment before you take it to the next level.

When your dog is responding to the cue “come” every time you call him inside your home, you can start training him outside.

Remember to always use a long line and harness when training recall outside, for your dog’s safety. 

If you don’t have a long line or harness this is what I’m using: long line, harness . You can buy these on Amazon, or check your local pet shop if you want something else to suit your style.

Remember, that when you change the environment you should start from scratch. Repeat everything from the beginning.

Great thing to make it easy on yourself is to first do some eye contact training outside (you can find some info on how to do it in this post).

There’s a lot more stimuli in your garden, or in the park so you want your dog to be able to concentrate on you.
If you find it difficult to get your dogs attention, because of the distractions, check what is distracting your dog and simply move away from the source of the distraction.


If you want to reinforce the behaviour even more, you can try using Premack’s principle.

What is Premack’s principle?

Premack’s principle suggests that if a person wants to perform a given activity, the person will perform a less desirable activity to get at the more desirable activity; that is, activities may themselves be reinforcers. An individual will be more motivated to perform a particular activity if they know that they will be able to partake of a more desirable activity as a consequence.

There’s a great video created by Nando Brown of www.inthedoghousedtc.com, that will show you exactly how you can use it to train your dog.
Check it out here: Premack recall
That’s it for today! Hope you enjoy reading this blog and if you do – subscribe, or follow us on Twitter. Remember – keep it fun and positive!