The Beginner Guide to Come for Off Leash Dog Training!

Marissa MartinoBehavior & Training Resources

Come when called is a pretty complex behavior and is absolutely necessary for off leash dog training.  There are many things to consider when you begin to teach this recall behavior. 

The 5 rules of Recall:

1.  Always REWARD your dog when he/she comes to you.  For example, give lots of yummy treats, praise, love and attention as if it was the greatest thing he/she has ever done!  I highly recommend using a food treat that your dog goes nuts over (chicken, deli meat, cheese) and use it for recall training only.  When your dog comes to you deliver at least 10 small treats in a row.  By doing this you are building a great association that “coming when called” is the BEST game ever.

2.  With that said, NEVER PUNISH your dog when he/she comes to you.  For example, do not place them in the crate, leave the dog park or clip them up from off leash freedom!  When you are in these situations, go get your dog and avoid using your recall word.   

3.  Only say the word ONCE!  If you say it more than once the dog learns to ignore you the first time.  Try saying the dog’s name first.  Does he/she look at you?  If so, then say “Come”.  If not, try calling their name again or make a kissing noise to get their attention FIRST, before using your recall word.   

4.  Call your dog when you know he or she WILL BE SUCCESSFUL.  For example, if you are only practicing recalls with your dog indoors, do not expect the dog to be ready to come when called at the dog park in the midst of a romp with another dog.  The more you call them when you know he/she will get it right, the more the dog will learn the correct behavioral response. 

5.  Lastly, if you do call them and they do not come, instead of repeating yourself, MAKE IT HAPPEN.  Channel your inner child and be as SILLY and exciting to entice your dog to follow you.  Some methods are making kissing noises, clapping your hands and running a few feet towards the dog and then turning away from your dog enticing a game of chase.  If you are close to the dog you can place a treat under their nose and lure them to you. 

STEP 1: Creating a Positive Association to the Recall Word:

  • Choose your recall word and remember to be consistent
  • Ask your dog to sit in front of you.
  • Say your recall word “COME”
  • Deliver 10 small treats in a row to your dog
  • Repeat this at least 5 more times, once a day

This game helps to create a positive association to the sound of that word.  “COME” = 10 hot dogs rain from the sky  – WOOHOO!

STEP 2: Recall Game in the House:

  • Toss a treat away from you.
  • After your dog gobbles it up say “Come” and when they reach you click and then deliver 10 treats in a row, praising them for coming to you!
  • Repeat this at least 5 more times, once a day
  • Practice this in the house only to reduce the amount of distractions

If you want to take your skills to the next level, click here!