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Off the Leash: The Best Recall Training for Dogs


If you’ve ever been out for a walk with your dog and suddenly realized that your furry friend is off-leash, it can be scary. You know that they can run away from you and get hurt, but there’s nothing you can do about it. But if you’re willing to put in some work, training your dog to come back when called will eventually become second nature for both of you!

In this article, we’ll go over how best to train a recall so that no matter where or when your pup may go astray—whether it’s at the park or around town—you’ll always have someone who wants to come home more than anything else!

We live in an amazing time for dog training. Gone are the days of choke chains and prong collars. Harsh words, leash pops, and yelling are also less common now.

Instead of harsh methods that can be damaging to your dog’s health or temperament, you can use positive reinforcement techniques—which means praising your dog whenever he does something right or rewarding him for good behavior with treats or toys.

This type of training is much more humane because it focuses on building trust between you and your pet by teaching him how to respond appropriately to his environment rather than punishing him when he makes mistakes (like jumping up on someone).


Stay relaxed while waiting

  • Don’t get upset if your dog doesn’t come when you call them.
  • Don’t call your dog if you’re angry or upset, as this can make it difficult for them to pay attention and follow commands after being called away from the recall exercise by their owner’s tone of voice or body language (e.g., raising his/her voice).
  • Keep your body language relaxed while waiting for the recall command, as this will help keep your dog calm and focused on what’s happening around him/her rather than worrying about any potential threats that may be coming toward him/her at any moment during this type of training session (i.e., other dogs nearby).

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Use a cue that means “come here”

The best way to train your dog for the recall is by using a cue that means “come here.” There are many different cues you can use, but the word you choose must be one your dog will respond to and doesn’t get frustrated with. It should also be unique so it doesn’t confuse other commands. If you want your dog to sit while they’re eating dinner or while they’re playing fetch with their toy, then try saying “sit” first before giving them the command “come here.” Otherwise, if they already know what comes next when they hear this word (because we’ve already taught them), then it could confuse them—and thus make training more difficult for everyone involved!

Get your dog excited about coming to you using a cue

The first step to training your dog to come when called is getting him excited about coming. This can be done by using a cue and reward (or treats) when the dog is close to you. When you give the cue, let him know that it’s time for his recall training session by saying “come” or whatever word he responds best with. Once he gets closer, give him some kind of reward—a piece of food or playtime—and then begin calling again until he comes back toward you without hesitation.

Practice “leave it”

The “leave it” cue is one of the most useful for recall training. This behavior is known as “corrective training,” and it teaches your dog that if they pick up something off the ground, you will leave them alone and not give them any attention.

To use this exercise, you first need to teach your dog that if he or she picks up a treat from the floor, he or she should drop it immediately, no matter how much fun they’re having looking at it. Then when you see him or her trying to eat something on the ground (which could be anything), call out “leave it!” in a firm voice so that they understand what their punishment will be if they or keep trying. The next step is giving treats while showing interest in whatever object was picked up by your pup before calling out “leave it!” This helps reinforce good behaviors without making them feel bad about themselves because sometimes dogs get excited about finding things like sticks or rocks only to realize later on down the road that these things shouldn’t be eaten!

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Practice other cues

You can also practice using other cues to teach your dog what to do in different situations. If you have a training session planned and need your dog to listen while he’s off-leash, use the recall cue as a way of getting him back on track when he wanders away from you.

If you’re having trouble getting your dog’s attention, try using one of his favorite toys or treats as bait (this works especially well if he’s distracted by something else). The idea is that once he hears that familiar sound coming from ahead of him, his brain will suddenly snap into focus and he’ll start trotting back toward you immediately!

Build the value of coming when you call your dog

The first step to building your dog’s recall is teaching it that coming when you call is a good thing.

You can use treats or toys as rewards for coming when called, but make sure that the reward is better than what your dog can get elsewhere! For example, if you’re walking through an empty park with your dog and see a squirrel running away from them—well, that’s not going to go over well when he sees his favorite toy in the distance. Your pup will want it back so badly that he won’t come back to you even though there are no squirrels around at all! So don’t give him anything else until he completes this task successfully—the last thing we want is another trip out of bounds because our pup wanted something else more important than coming back home with us right now!

Start close to home

In the beginning, you’ll want to start right in your backyard. You can work on recall at home or in an area where your dog is accustomed to going. For example, if you live on a busy street, it’s best not to take him out when cars are passing by because he might get distracted by their sounds and lose focus on his target—which is why it’s best not to start too far away from home either!

Train on walks

  • Keep a long lead in your pocket.
  • Walk your dog on a leash and off-leash at the same time, but don’t let him get away from you.
  • Use a harness instead of a collar so he can’t pull against you when he runs ahead of you or turns around too quickly to see what’s behind him (he might catch sight of something scary).

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Train when you’re off-leash together in an enclosed area.

The first step is to make sure your dog is safe. This can be as simple as creating a large, enclosed area where you and the dog can practice. Then, some guidelines need to be followed:

  • Make sure there are no distractions in the room. If you have other dogs or cats running around, this could cause your dog not to pay attention when he comes back with his trainer!
  • Have treats handy so that they’re excited about coming over to you (this will also show that they know what’s expected of them).
  • Beginning at an easy distance away from where they usually play together (usually no more than 10 feet), tell them “Come” and wait until they approach before giving them their treat while continuing talking softly at this point would help reinforce good behavior through praise rather than negative feedback which would only make things worse later on down the line.”

Don’t lose your cool if your dog doesn’t come right away

Don’t lose your cool if your dog doesn’t come right away. If you’re frustrated, angry, or upset and yelling at your dog, it’s not going to help them learn the recall command. Your body language will send a message that they should be fearful of you instead of seeing you as their safe place where they can run into you when they need comfort or reassurance.

Instead of getting frustrated with your dog for not listening right away, try calming down so that both of you are in a better frame of mind to learn new behaviors together. You can also give yourself time before asking again so that there’s no tension between the two of you—and then just let go!

Once you’ve done some recall training, your dog will learn quickly how to come back to you reliably

  • Your dog will learn to come back to you when called even if it is distracted by other things. For example, if your dog is chasing a squirrel in front of a busy street, this may cause him or her to forget about returning home. However, with practice and patience, this problem can be overcome by making sure that the recall command is always followed by praise or other rewards such as food treats or petting time (if appropriate).
  • Your dog will also learn how appropriate running at full speed is for getting back where it belongs before long!


If you’re ready to get started, we recommend starting with a few minutes of training on walks. During these sessions, don’t forget to reinforce the behavior of coming back to you when called. This will be very beneficial in the long run, as it’ll help build your dog’s confidence and prepare him for recall training more effectively.

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