How To Get Your Dog To Come When Called, Every Time!

teaching puppy perfect recall skills

Isn’t it frustrating when you repeatedly call your dog to come when called, and they seem to tune you out? Have you found yourself in a scary situation where your dog gets loose, and you end up chasing them around, looking like a crazy person, while your dog is having the time of their life enjoying their freedom?


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What if I told you that almost 95% of people teach their dog not to come when they call their dog by doing some really bad behaviors? (On accident, of course.)

Teaching your dog a reliable recall is one of the most important cues you can teach your dog! It’s the cue you can use to keep them safe if they escape and bolt towards the road or if they slip their collar and head towards oncoming people or dogs. If your dog gets loose, you want to be able to call them back instantly!


The problem is that it’s also the number one cue that dog owners don’t practice enough.


In order to get a reliable recall, you need to teach your dog that you are far better than every other distraction.

Daily puppy dog training will help you build a rock-solid bond with your dog. This will also help your dog see you in a positive light. The more your dog thinks you are the “cat's meow” or the best of the best, the better recall you’ll have with your dog.


Here are 5 top tips to keep in mind when working on a reliable recall with your dog, so you don’t accidentally teach your dog not to come:


Never Chase Your Dog

Whatever you do, do not chase your dog if they refuse to come to you. Chasing your dog will make them run further away from you. Dogs have a natural instinct to run away from special pressure being applied. You running at them in a low angry tone will most certainly push them further away from you!


Drop Your Body Posture

If you want to get your dog to come closer to you, drop your body posture, and get as low as possible. You’ll seem more interesting when you get down on their level. They may think you want to play with them.


Never Sold or Scream at Your Dog

If you want to get your dog to come closer to you instead of running away, you’ll need to sweet-talk them. I know you may be frustrated that they aren’t responding to you, but the more upset and angry you are, the less likely they will want to come back to you. When was the last time you wanted to get close to a screaming, yelling, crazy person? Instead, be as happy and excited as possible. Make it seem like you are super happy with them, even if you’re less than pleased with their bad behavior.


Go Away

Moving in the opposite direction will actually pique your dog’s curiosity. They will want to see where you are going and what you are doing. If you can run away while calling their name in a happy upbeat tone you’re more likely to get them to engage in a game of them chasing you instead of the other way around. Don’t forget to drop your posture as well. Your dog will think this new chase game is great fun! Your dog should always be chasing you, you should never be chasing your dog. This same rule applies in the house when your dog grabs ahold of something they aren't supposed to have.


Stop Saying “Come”

If your dog is not responding to the cue “come” you need to stop calling it out. The more your dog hears the cue “come” and doesn’t respond but instead runs away, tunes you out, and wants to engage with you in a game of you chasing them instead, the more the word loses its meaning. Come starts to mean “run away from me” or “sniff the ground.”


a reliable recall is when dog is excited to come when called


Until your dog has a rock-solid, 100% reliable recall, do not let them off-leash! Your dog does not avoid coming to you on purpose. They get easily sidetracked and distracted by all the things that are more entertaining and interesting than you. They can’t help themselves. You are essentially competing with the world when you call them to come to you. If you aren’t more exciting than the world they are exploring they will choose the world over you. If you run towards them or sound angry they will tune you out and run away instead.

In order for you to get your dog to reliably come when called, you’ll need to work on playing some tried and true recall games on a long leash to establish that coming to you is far better than running away. You’ll want to build the bond between you and your dog by practicing training daily. This can also include working on other training cues as well. Training should be fun, positive, and practiced regularly! Grab your long leash here.

For more information on building a better bond through training and games check out our 30 Days to Puppy Perfection program.

Tell me in the comments below about the time your dog didn’t come when you called them.


Michele Lennon with her dream dogs

About the trainer

Michele Lennon

After spending 20 years helping families with their dogs face to face as a professional dog trainer, Michele realized that so much of what she knows could be shared with families everywhere - in a way that actually works. People sometimes think their dog is just SUPER difficult because the advice they’ve gotten was incomplete, confusing or just wrong. So she set out to help. Michele loves training dogs because of the impact that it has on the families she gets to help. The peace and joy they get from being able to enjoy their dog LISTENING. Besides teaching classes, helping private clients and running seminars, Michele is also a foodie and fantasizes about being a food critic or secret shopper for restaurants. Talk to her about food and your instant best friends.