Taking the time to train your puppy to come is a skill that will serve you both for the rest of his life. By starting your training while your puppy is still young, you are doing your part to make sure he has a strong and fast response to your call--so that it will be there when you need it.
Professional trainers call a dog’s ability to come when called, “recall.” Training a great recall is not hard to do, but it does work best if you approach it as something that you will always have to practice in order to keep it strong.
This guide will show you how to teach the basics of a good recall, as well as how to make it into a fun game and how to proof the behavior under a variety of circumstances.
Note that some breeds will learn a reliable recall faster than others. No matter how good you think your dog’s recall is, never rely on it around dangerous conditions such as traffic.
Training your puppy to come is not difficult. You can start as early as 8 weeks old to really make sure your puppy grows up to be a dog that comes when called, every time. In addition to the three methods offered in this guide, follow these tips for best results:
Whenever you are training your puppy new behaviors, it is important to follow a few simple guidelines. First, make sure that you are in a good mood and have plenty of patience. If you find yourself yelling at your puppy during training, do something else and come back to training when you have more patience.
When training recall, you will want to be more exciting than the environment for your puppy. At 8 weeks old, your puppy has about 5 minutes of attention before he is going to walk away and get into something new. At about 4 months, you have about 15 minutes to play with before he gets bored. Keep sessions short and fun and make sure to meet your puppy where he is at on his learning development curve.
Rewards can be anything that motivates your puppy, but we recommend a variety of rewards for recall training. Sometimes use some tasty treats, other times use lots of praise. When you change it up, it keeps your pup guessing what she might earn next time she comes running when you call her. This is the ideal set up for great recall for life.
The only equipment you need to train your puppy to come is a long line. This can be a leash or a simple piece of sturdy rope that is at least 25’ in length. When you are ready to take your training to new places, the long line will let you safely work with your puppy from a distance. It will also come in handy for other training so consider it a long-term investment in your puppy.