How to Train a Dog to Come When Called


teach your dog to come when called every time

Training a Dog to Come: A Life Saving Command

Training your dog to come is also known as “recall training”. Dog recall training is a potential life saving skill.  “Come” is generally paired with teaching your dog its name but doesn’t have to be. The goal is to teach a dog to come every time you call. Training a puppy to come should be a fun bonding experience as it re-establishes the relationship you have with your puppy.

In all our training classes, recall has been stressed as the most important skill to master with your pup.  When your dog hears “Fido, Come!” you want him to stop in his tracks and run to you.  It is easier to establish reliable recall early, but it is not impossible to develop it later on.  So how can you develop reliable recall in your pup? Follow these steps…

Rules For Good Dog Recall

  1.  Never Call for Something Bad
  2. Always Pay with the Best (Baby Food, Hotdogs)
  3. Never Say Die
  4. Always Act Excited
  5. Reward Check Ins

Never Call for Something Bad 

Don’t call your dog for bath time, nail trimming, ear cleaning, brushing, leaving the park, or any other undesirable activity.  If he associates “Come” with something bad, he will stop responding.

Always Pay with the Best 

To teach dog recall, always treat! It is important to ALWAYS pay when your dog responds to the commands.  Our trainer recommended paying for every single time until at least 1 year.  However, there is more to this puzzle: you want to pay with the BEST treat you have and reserve this treat for recall.  This means hotdogs, wet food, or baby food.  We use hot dogs and baby food as our designated recall treats.  Baby food is the easiest and least messy way to treat your pup for coming back to you – we like to freeze it so that it lasts longer. All you need to do is pop open the container and give the pup one lick for their good behavior.  We use Beef & Gravy and Chicken & Gravy Gerber’s baby food because it does not have any potentially dangerous ingredients like extra sugar, onion, or garlic.  We buy in bulk from Amazon and go through about 2 per week.  There is always a container of baby food in our pockets.  Calvin knows that the ONLY time he gets baby food is when he stops in his tracks and runs to us – it works every time.

Never Give Up 

Our trainer used a harsh saying “Never Say Die” when explaining recall.  In short, never let your dog blow you off with recall.  If they think they can only come when they feel like it, then your recall will not be reliable.  If they do not immediately respond to “Come!” Make exciting noises, wave around your baby food or start running away from them (not towards them) until they follow.  Make sure to PAY very well once they finally respond.  If this becomes a habit, use a 25 foot leash (we used this one) and lure them towards you until they get the concept.

how to train your dog to come when you call

Always Act Excited 

Always act excited when training your dog to come. Recall should be framed as the most exciting thing for your dog.  Remember that first time your pup understood not to soil your nice white carpet? That was the best! Do the same for recall – throw a doggie party every time he comes to you – especially before you have established reliable recall.  Give them kisses, belly scratches, extra treats, extra baby food.  They should view coming to you as the most amazing thing in the world.  This will make them excited every time they hear the recall command.

Reward Check Ins 

When you are training a puppy to come, make sure to always reward check ins. When you let your dog off leash, it feels great knowing that he won’t stray too far without looking back and checking in with you.  Ideally, he will wait for you if he gets too far ahead or turn around and come back without even needing to be called.  To develop this behavior, work on rewarding random check ins.  If he is on the leash and turns back to come by your side, say “yes” and pay up.  If you start rewarding “check ins” this will reinforce that you don’t want him to get too far ahead of you when you are out.  Once you get good at this, you will be able to let your pup off leash and know he will come back EVEN if he goes out of sight.

Remember, Come always means Treats!

-Your Pal Cal

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