Recall is essentially your dog’s ability to come back to you when called. Recall is a concept that many dogs just don’t understand because the world is filled with interesting sights, sounds and smells; why would they want to leave all that?


Ways to teach recall

Call – Return – Reward

It’s that simple! Call your dog using a word or sound they don’t already have a trained behaviour for (calling ‘sit’ across the field would be confusing for everyone!) Wait for your dog to come back to you then reward them with food or a toy depending on what they prefer. Send your dog off exploring again and repeat.

Timing is key. Call your dog when they are most likely to come back to you, such as when they look back at where you are or are sniffing something facing towards you. 

Start with small distances between you and your dog. This makes it easier for your dog to come to you as there will be less distractions on the way. Build up the distance as your dog gets better at coming when called.

Go somewhere quiet to practice. A park full of people and dogs is probably not the best place to begin trying to teach a reliable recall. We advise teaching a basic recall in the garden before trying it outside. Find somewhere safe and quiet to begin and build up to places with more distractions as your dogs’ recall improves.

Always reward your dog for coming back to you. Whether you asked your dog to come back two or twenty minutes ago, always make sure you reward them. A common problem we see is people telling their dog off because they had to call them over three or four times before their dog came back.

Dogs’ don’t understand that they are being told off for coming back late, all they see is someone telling them off for coming back (which makes their recall worse). Reward your dog every time they come back, whether you asked them to or whether they came back to check in on their own.

Practice makes perfect. Even when your dog has a quick, solid recall even in places with a lot of distractions there is always room for improvement. Continuing to reward your dog for unusually quick recalls, or for a recall from very far away will maintain their level of training.


Consistency and repetition is key

Building a reliable recall takes time and patience, but it is well worth it in the end. It gives your dog the freedom to go exploring and you the peace of mind that you can get them to come back when you need them to.

Some dogs will take longer to gain enough self-control to stop what they are doing and come back to you when called and that’s okay. Dogs are as individual as humans and some make take longer to pick it up. If you are consistent and patient in your approach your dog will eventually understand what you’re asking them to do and will be more than happy to oblige.

What if your dog never learns to come back when called?

Don’t worry! There are a wide range of longlines designed just for dogs that can’t be let off their leads; whether it’s because they don’t like other dogs, race off into the horizon or perhaps you live in an area where dogs must be kept on leads.

Looking for somewhere to practise?

Each of our centres has a large and secure field which you and your pooch can hire - perfect to practise your dog's recall and enjoy stress free walkies and playtime together. To hire one of our enclosed fields from £5 for half an hour, please contact your local Jerry Green Dog Rescue centre.