Recall: “Come Here Boy!”
Learning how to maneuver your dog around is the foundation of a LOT of dog training.
“Recall” is what dog professionals call it when you ask your dog to come to you. You can actually use lots of different words like “come”, “come here”, “let’s go”, or even just your dog’s name. When you ask your dog to come to you, you have to convince them that YOU are way more fun and interesting than everything else they wanted to do.
The thing to know about Recall is that it might be the most important command you ever teach your dog! Imagine if they get out of the front door and are running to the street – what do you do?? Yup, a really good recall is the answer!
Nobody wants THIS to happen when they drop the leash!
The most important thing to remember about asking your dog to come over to you is that you have to be happy when you do it! Even if your dog juts did something very naughty, no dog will come to someone who is angry. Your dog should look like this whenever you do a recall 🙂
There are three parts to a recall. We’ll teach you them to you one by one:
Your first goal is to make sure your dog absolutely loves doing recalls, especially when you’re outside. So make sure to use very stinky, high-value treats.
It might be difficult to have treats on you all the time, but we only need to use these delicious treats while while we’re teaching recalls in the beginning, especially if you’re training outside.
Remember first how to hold the treats the right way: place the treat at the base of your index and middle fingers, then hold it in place with your thumb. This way you can hold a flat palm without the treat falling out.
And how to “show” the treats to your dog – right to their nose!
When training your dog, many commands will start with a food lure. You’ll even use treats to “remind” your dog you have treats when they’re training around lots of distractions outside. When you want to lure or remind them about treats by, “show” them the treat by holding it in a flat hand and shoving it right up to their nose. There will be no way they can miss it and they will definitely be able to follow it.
And finally, use the treat hand to move your dog around and closer to you!
To practice the first part of recalls, try this exercise where you move your dog around using luring, holding the treat right to their face. You can move them in a circle, figure-8, or just back toward you. Remember, for this part you should not use any voice commands yet.
If you use a silly, happy voice, your dog will want to come over and be near you simply because you’re fun and happy. Try to make the voice like in these video sand see what your dog does.
Dogs communicate much faster than humans are used to, and you’ll need to reward your dog for focusing on you a lot of the time. A happy, silly voice will help a lot with showing your dog that they are doing the right things and that there’s nothing to be stressed about. You may feel silly, but your dog’s happiness and good training is much more important than anything else!
And just for a few laughs, watch this video, but the voice is actually a good idea!
The last part of a recall is where you move yourself in a fun way to get your dog to chase you. Chasing is a big part of how dogs play. If you can do the same thing, your dog will recall to you – and be super happy while doing it! It also helps to lean over a bit to be a bit more fun, instead of standing up totally straight.
First, to review, here’s how dogs look when they play chase with each other:
Now let’s see if you can do the same! Turn and face your dog and walk backwards so they can chase you. If you want to pick up speed, you can even turn to run forward and have them chase you faster!
Now that you understand all the basic pieces of a recall, you can put them all together in one smooth motion. Put your treat hand at the center of your legs, use your silly happy voice, and walk backwards from your dog while bending over a bit and praising them for being so good! It should look something like this:
It may also be good to teach your dog to go right into a sit when they get to you. They’ll be so excited that they may want to jump up on you, so adding a sit will help avoid this problem. This is the same as how we teach dogs not JUMPING FOR ATTENTION.
Sitting is a very common way to teach dogs to politely ask for things. The reason we want to teach dogs to sit is that they can’t sit and jump up at the same time! Sitting and jumping up are “incompatible behaviors” because a dog can’t do them both at the same time.
So this is how we teach dogs to be polite – by sitting! When a dog really wants something and they’re sitting instead of jumping on you or pawing, you know it means they’re trying really hard to be polite!
Putting everything together, it should look like this:
This is a fun game you can play if you have 2 or more people for your dog to recall back-and-forth. between. If you don’t have someone to practice with, you can also use a long leash and throw a toy to get your dog far away from you before doing the recall. And make sure to use really smelly treats if you’re outside!
Every time you do a recall, move back a couple more feet so that the distance is longer and longer each time. Make sure your dog gets lots of praise and treats each time too!
Recalls are a very important command that should come very naturally for your dog whenever you need it. Recalls should always be FUN! Build up lots of recalls so that when you really need it, it will be a habit for your dog. As a rule of thumb:
Recalls are so important that they should be second nature for your dog. The big problem that many people have is only using recalls when they are going to do something their dog doesn’t like. If your dog knows that you only call them over when you’re leaving the park, going home, or they did something bad – then they’ll never want to do it!
To avoid this, make sure you do lots of recalls all the time for no reason so your dog can build up the habit of coming over to you all the time! Aim to do 20-50 recalls every time you go out for a walk or to the park with your dog.
Finding a safe place to practice recalls can be a huge help for making them super reliable!