Recall – Come When Called

The Purpose of a Recall

The most important of all important commands, your coming when called cue can save your dog’s life!  When you have a good recall you may give your dog more freedom to run and play knowing you can have them by your side with a single command.  To have a dynamite recall you must practice, practice, practice! It must also be FUN for your dog to come to you so be prepare Luna to reward with a high value food or toy.  We will break the recall down into three separate exercises.  Stop, Turn Around, Run To Me and Come on Cue .

Play "Stop and Turn Around" at Home:

You will need two values of food, one high value and one low value, and a wall to work against.  Starting 4-6 feet from the wall, hold your dog by the collar and toss a low value piece of food towards the wall. Release your dog to get the piece of food.  As your dog is eating the piece of food say your recall cue ONCE and lure them back towards you with the high value food.  Repeat this exercise in short, frequent sessions being sure to change your location each time.  Remember to be excited when your dog comes to you! 

Practicing Nala's Paper Plate Recall from various positions under some beautiful distractions.

Here is an unedited video of our session teching Fern the  "Paper Plate Recall" as she worked for her dinner.

Play "Paper Plate Recall" 

This is great exercise to teach your dog to come when called (recall) indoors to start and then can be practiced outdoors as well. This also helps teach impulse control, adding the 3D's to your "Sit", "Down" and "Place" cues, and "Send Away" as well as being a fun game for all. 

Start by having your dog on their "Place" bed, in a "Sit" or "Down", whichever they are best at staying in position. I use a plastic Frisbee but you can use a paper plate or anything similar as a target to place your food. Put your dog in position and take the "plate" walk away a few steps and show them that you are placing a piece of food on the plate and the plate on the floor. Be ready for your dog to try and get out of position, if they do use your "No Reward Marker" (NRM) and spatial pressure if needed to put them back in position. 

Next walk back to them stand on their side, wait for their focus to be on you and then release with a forward hand motion toward the plate and say "Away". If they are unsure, guide them with your hand again and if needed bring the plate closer. Once they run to the plate mark with verbal "Yes" or a clicker and call them back with your recall cue of "Come" or "Here" and lots of praise as they return to you and when they get back to you mark with verbal "Yes" or a clicker and reward. 

Cue them back in position "Sit", "Down" and "Place", and repeat, each time moving the plate further away.

Puppy Dubs is learning to come on Cue

Condition with a "Restrained Recall"

This exercise requires a partner and high value food or toy. Your partner will hold your dog by the collar/harness or chest while you stand in front of your dog teasing them and getting them excited. Take 5-6 steps backwards and say your recall cue ONCE.
This is your partners cue to release the dog’s collar. As your dog comes running towards you, continue to back up and reward.  Gradually, increase your distance before calling your dog but don’t go too far too fast! Again, repetition is key. 

Practice teaching your dog to "Come on Cue" :

On your Long line (15-30 ft leash) let your dog get distracted. While the leash is loose, say your recall cue (Come/Here) ONCE and back up while giving exciting verbal praise when your dog is either running to you or looking at you as if not sure they are doing the right thing. Reward your dog with a tasty treat when they get to you. You can also add a few more random rewards before releasing your dog. Step back and say "yes" or Clicker with a clicker when your dog looks up at you, step back again and repeat. This can be done once, twice or even 3 times to build the drive to come to you before releasing.

If your dog  is too distracted, give your dog  the count of 5 then repeat, If your dog  is ignoring or still not listening, say “No” and give a light tug repeat the above steps by saying your recall cue (Come) ONCE and guide him  back to like when you are fishing.

Here is Scarlett's recall session (we added a tug toy distractions as well)

Had a great "Come on Cue" session with Hank, Robin and of course Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue Alumna Phoebe.

My session with Miss Lana, teaching her to "Come on Cue" in the park.

Here is Nala practicing her "Recalls" and "Downs" on the busy Brooklyn Streets.

Practice "Rapid Recalls", a great exercise you can do wirt you and your dog:

Here is a quick video from my Rapid Recalls session with Belle:

Start with you long line on your dog in the park, let him  get distracted by sniffing or looking at something. Then when she is not paying attention call him  back you you like we practiced, take a few steps back if you can as well. When she gets to you reward and release with your release cue (OK, Free, Break).

Let your dog get a few steps away and call your dog again and reward/release. Keep practicing this at a variety of distances from short, medium to long ones at variable times an lengths. This makes a fun game out of coming on cue and is a great way to build her reward history of good behavior.

In a quiet large area "Follow Me" is a great exercise with a long line.

On a loose leash in a quiet area in the park, pick three points of interest or landmark like a tree, rock or stump at a good distance from each other. Start looking towards the first one for around 10 seconds and then calmly start walking towards it, If your dog is not paying attention just keep walking, if the leash gets tight just keep tension until she starts moving towards you and the start walking again. (Don’t say anything). When you get to the Landmark stop for a minute just looking at the around and at the ground like you lost something. Start looking towards the Second Landmark 10 seconds and then calmly start walking towards it, repeat for the third Landmark. Repeat this a few times when you have time. It’s just a exercise to have your dog learn to stay with you off leash.

The Recall sequence is:

  1. Your Dog's Name
  2. Come
  3. Verbal Praise as she comes to you and Reward when she arrives


If your dog is ignoring you, count to 5 and try again with a corrections.

  1. Your Dog's Name
  2. Come
  3. No
  4. Tug on the leash (Correction)
  5. Come
  6. Verbal Praise as she comes to you and reward when your dog arrives


There are other videos on my Facebook page in the "Recall: Come on Cue” playlist