The Recall or Come Dog Command

Many will tell you that the come, or recall command is without a doubt the most important dog training command that you will ever teach your dog or young puppy. At some point in time, you will need to use this to make sure your dog does not get into serious trouble.

Not only is this dog training command very important to keep your dog safe, but as soon as your puppy has learned it, they are typically allowed a lot more freedom when out on walks or in the yard. If you are out on vacation and your dog is out and exploring, they will always be alert, and will respond to the come command when it is given. This is always a good piece of mind for the owner and lets them have their fun as well.

The Come CommandThe end goal of this dog training command which is oftentimes called recall but more often called come, is to get a response from your dog right away, every time you say it. This should be no matter what is happening around your dog, they will drop everything they are doing and listen to you.

Do not think that it is going to be easy to always get your dog to listen to you right away though. Dog training the come command is not as easy as some people think and some dogs have a hard time learning it and listening 100% of the time. Think of the dogs that are born and bred to chase around animals or chase strong smells, this obviously goes against their instincts they were born with.

If you follow the steps that I will outline below, you will succeed if you stay focused in training your dog. As soon as you get your puppy, you will be able to teach them the come command, but you can also teach an older dog as you will be using and reinforcing this command almost every day while the dog is alive and under your watch.

Why Does Your Dog Not Come When You Call Them?

Listed below are some reasons that your dog will sometimes ignore you and not come when you call them.

  • The number 1 reasons is that your dog does not understand the come command. They are simply confused on what you are saying and do not know what to do when you say “Come”.
  • In the past when you called “Come”, they may have not been held accountable and were allowed to get away with disobeying you. They learned right then and there that they did not need to respond to your commands.
  • Your dog probably believes that chasing the smell of that squirrel in the park is much more exciting than coming back when called.
  • Your dog may have listened to your command somewhere in the past but they were punished for their good behavior when they reached you. You may think this is not the case but if you call them to come and then you put them in their crate or put them in the shower to wash them, this can be seen as a punishment in your dogs eyes.
Dog Training Rules To Keep In Mind When Teaching The Come Command
  1. You never want to punish your dog at any time if they come back to you. If your dog takes ages to respond and you are furiously mad, it is very important that you keep your cool and do not punish the dog. If you do, they will remember this action, which came from you, and not listen in the future.
  2. The goal is to make the option of coming to you the best, most attractive option to the dog rather than another action.
  3. If you do not have your dog fully trained with the “Come” command, do not let them off the leash when taking them for a walk in public. Your dog will need to earn the right to be able to run around freely, so follow the dog training steps below to teach them this command.
  4. Make sure that the command you are teaching your dog is associated with positive actions. Your dog should want to hear this command, not fear it. Make your dog happy each time she comes to you and do not use this just to put a leash around their neck after they have been running around for fun.
  5. During daily life with your dog, work in the command you are training them with. You can use it to call them over just to pat their head or give them a treat.
  6. When the time comes to teach the command off leash, your dog may not respond. Do not chase after them. The first thing you want to do is wait. If they do not come, simply go get your dog but do not give them punishment. Simply try training again with their leash on, and gradually move to having no leash.
  7. If there is a situation where you know that your dog will not come if you call them, do not attempt to call them. You never want to give your dog the idea that it is just fine that they do not listen to your command. They must come to you every single time you say the command and they must respect this.
  8. When starting out obedience training, you want to start off every training season nice and easy. Build on previous steps before you move on to harder tasks. You want to challenge your dog but not to move too fast or they will not listen. Build up the confidence your dog has and you will see results.

Below are the steps you want to follow. Just keep in mind that if you repeat these to your dog and give reinforcement while keeping your patience, then these training techniques will give your dog excellent results.

The Come Command

The Come Command – Dog Training
  • If you have a young puppy, you know that they love to just follow you around wherever you go and are happy to do it. You can turn this behavior to your advantage. Each and every time that they come over to you, make them happy that they did so. Praise them and make it rewarding each and every time. Repetition remember?
  • The obvious next step is that you want to get the verbal cue “Come” to be associated with coming to you. To do this, you will want to start inside your house and make sure there are no distractions. Kneel down and be friendly while saying “Jacky Come” (Your dogs name of course). You might even want to take a treat to lure your dog to you if needed. When your puppy comes to you, give them praise and give them a reward for their effort. You will want to repeat this many times to reinforce the connection between the command and the action.
  • There is a game I like to play with my dog when I was teaching this command but it requires that you have two people. First put yourself in one corner of a room and a friend in the other corner. Call over your dog with the “Come” command and then give them a treat when they get to you. Next, your friend will call out the command and your dog will have to go all the way across the room to get her treat. This can teach your dog to listen to the “Come” command from yourself but also other people. Dogs will love this game because they are getting treats as well as learning the desired behavior.

  •  Now that your dog has learned and is responding fast to the “Come” command when called, you will need to give some reinforcement for different situations your dog may find themselves in. Go on outside and put your dog onto a leash. Say the command “Come” and walk backwards. When your dog comes close, scratch them behind the ear or pat them on the head as you give them a treat. You can practice this throughout your walk but always remember to give your dog praise when they are doing well.
  • For the next step in training, you want to ditch the leash and get a very long line to attach to their collar. This is just a small rope that you can typically find at different pet shops as well as hardware stores. Make sure once you get to this step that you start in a place that is familiar to your dog such as the front or backyard before you go to other public places later on. When you attach the line to your dog, they will generally forget that it is there after running around for a while and feel completely free. This is really not the case and you will be able to catch them whenever you want to. Call your dog to you with the “Come” command and give praise when they do but you can always send them running around again. Do not use the cord to reel in your dog like a fish. This cord is there to make sure the dog does not run away or outrun you leaving you to run around the neighborhood in search of your puppy. If you would like to get some more information about long line training, this membership community has taught me so much and I think could really help your training.
  • For the last step, you can play a fun game with your dog. Make sure that when you first show your dog this game, they are in a place that does not have distractions. You will need a friend for this game. Stand about 60 feet away from your friend and let your dog wander around by having no leash on them. Toss a ball or toy to your friend and as soon as it leaves your hand, say “Come!”. When you do this action, you will giving your dog a choice. They can either come to you as you command, or run after the toy or ball. If they decide to go for the ball, your friend simply picks up the toy and ignores the dog so the dog decides to go back to you. If this happens, give her a pat on the head but do not make a big deal about it. Sometimes you want to not say any command so that your dog has a chance to go get the toy guilt free of not listening to you.

If you are working on these steps to train your dog and they are not understanding, that is perfectly normal. Just take it slow or take a step back to work on the previous step. Training your dog is not easy and you want to be building upon skills they have already learned so make sure you nail down each step before moving to the next.