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Puppy Training Recall-How to Train My Dog to Come when called-Using a Recall Whistle

Updated on March 14, 2011

Puppy Recall

Recall or dog coming when called is probably the most important command you can teach your new puppy.

A puppy that won't come back to you when called is at risk of being hurt, a danger to himself and a nuisance usually to other dog owners.

There is nothing more annoying than screaming at a puppy or older dog for that matter to come back, everybody else's dog comes when called so why won't yours?

In this; my third article dedicated to puppy training for new owners I am going to explain how to teach a puppy the recall command.

Recall means coming straight back to you, no detours, no delays, no fun along the way simply straight back.

Puppy Training Recall

If you have read my hubs on basic puppy training and teach your puppy to sit, stay and wait you will remember that when puppy is given a command, he waits then you return to him.

Recall is different, this is a whole new ball game for a young puppy and in the early stages of learning the recall command he may get confused. Be patient, practice and repetition will prevail.

Recall Your Puppy to a Whistle

This part of your puppy training is optional, I prefer to train recall to a whistle for the following reasons:

Puppies respond to whistles.

A whistle differentiates your command from other voices. How many times do you see well meaning passers by and children calling the cute little puppy, try to imagine how confusing that is to a puppy that doesn't speak your language.

A whistle allows you to recall your puppy over a longer distance.

If you prefer not to use a whistle decide on your verbal command "COME" or "HERE", make it a one word command and do not under any circumstances use the same command for anything else, well actually there is one activity when you can use it and it will help your training.You can use the same command to call your puppy to his food, this will speed up his learning as he will associate recall command with food.

The same rules apply as with sit, stay and wait; you whistle or call once and you expect puppy to respond on your one and only command.

Puppy Training Success

Teaching a puppy the recall command early on in his training means you have a distinct advantage.

All and I mean all young puppies follow people, especially people that feed them.

Use this natural following instinct to make recall an easy lesson to learn. When your puppy is following you back away from him, give him the recall command, let him catch you up then praise him or offer a small treat.

Over a period of time increase the distance between you and your puppy, he will be only to eager to catch you when you call him.

Always give your puppy the chance to succeed, in order to create success in puppy training you must create the correct environment. Early recall training is best done in the house or in your own backyard.

Once you get outdoors where there are so many more distractions, smells, people and other dogs; training becomes more difficult.


Dog Recall Training Video

Teaching Recall Outdoors

Once your puppy is able to go outdoors, find a quiet place with few distractions or hazards.

Let your puppy of the lead and walk away in an opposite direction to him, "Do Not Call Him", if he follows his instinct and training he will follow you.

When he catches you give him plenty of praise and a "Big Treat", he deserves a big treat outdoors because there are so many other things he could have done.

Keep doing this exercise over and over, never walk in a straight line, change direction often as this way your puppy learns to keep his eye on you and subsequently follow you.

Now you can start to add in your recall whistle or command. When your puppy starts coming in your direction, give him your recall command and praise him when he gets there.

Over time and as your puppy matures he will get braver and more inquisitive, he will come across other dogs and fun things to do, he will increase his distance from you. This is when you need your recall command to be instinctive and consistent.


Recall Training Should be Exciting

As your puppy gets more consistent at immediate recall vary his treats.

Always praise him when he returns but give a treat on the second or third recall. Doing it this way now makes it even more exciting for your puppy as he doesn't know on which recall he will get his favourite treat.

A common mistake people make when teaching recall is this one:

When it is time for your walk to finish; you call in your puppy; put his lead on and take him home.

Have a look around at how many dog owners spend time shouting at a dog or even worse chasing a dog when it's time to go home.

What you have actually taught him is that if he comes to you his fun is over.

The easiest way to overcome this is; during your training sessions when he returns to you, touch his collar, put his lead on, praise him, give him a treat, take his lead off again and let him have another bit of fun. He will no longer associate the recall command with going home, simply treat or no treat, his best option is to come to you and find out.


Repetition and Practice

All puppy training requires patience, repetition and practice.

You can never teach puppy recall too often, make it fun, make it exciting and make it instinctive. Most of all enjoy the quality bonding time you have together and become the master of a happy obedient puppy.

Good luck and do let me know if it worked for you!


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    • Aiden Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Aiden Roberts 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Sarah

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are right, whistle training is great for dog's, there is no confusion with the command and dog's generally respond well and quickly.

      In terms of treats, not all dogs find there normal food that exciting. A treat can be organic, homemade, a favorite toy or simply lot's of praise. The idea of using treats (food) is to gradually remove them, so for example when the dog responds, give a treat every third time, then fourth and so on; you should be able to train your dog to be happy with lot's of praise from you with the odd treat as a real bonus.

      Hope this helps, have fun whistle training.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I've been thinking a lot about using a whistle to have my six month old Maltese, Lennon, come because of the directness. He'll know exactly what I mean by the whistle becuase it's just that one command.

      But here's my question: Lennon is just a tiny maltese, and I'm afraid about treating him too much. I've thought about using pieces of his food as treats, but that doesn't motivate him that much.

      So what kind of treat or food should I use that he won't be.. suffering nutritionally.

      Thank you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for this good advice. I will start working with him today with your training technique.

      Have a blessed day.

    • Aiden Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Aiden Roberts 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi konrel

      Isn't it annoying when that happens!

      The secret of a solid (consistent) recall is to make "you" the most exciting thing in the area. Dogs don't really ignore their master they just have something better to do at the time.

      I would continue to use the training lead until your dog is really consistent, have another person hold the lead and you move just out of reach and practice the recall with the lead attached, if dog goes away from you catch the lead and start again, make sure the treats you are using are not the normal everyday ones; give your dog something special so all of a sudden you are really interesting.

      If you think about it, ignoring you is a game not disobedient, but if the only way to get the really nice treat is to come when called he will soon lose interest in ignoring you.

      Find an open space where he can't get into any trouble and without distractions, maybe use a dog whistle rather than your voice. Make sure he knows you have the "really nice treats" when he goes one way; you go the other, don't call him just give a pip on the whistle, if he doesn't follow ignore him, if he does treat and praise.

      Over a period of time give a treat every couple of recalls, this way he can't take the chance, so it's best to come back each time.

      All in all don't scold if he doesn't come straight back as you are teaching him when he does come back he will get into trouble, instead make him want you rather than the other way around.

      Good luck and repetition is the key.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful information. Thank you for sharing. I have a Lab who is 5 now. He knows all the commands. He likes to help by carrying things, retreiving things, and just being a companion. I am having behavioral problems with him out side on the recall.We put a 25 ft rope attatched to his collar out side and he stays close to me, He thinks he is tied to the yard and wont leave. Once I take the rope off he is gone down the road. I call HERE and he stops to look at me wags the tail and runs faster the other way. He does come back eventually. Should I give him a treat for comming home? Its like when he is off the rope every thing I taught him is over.

    • Aiden Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Aiden Roberts 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for your comment.

      One of the most frustrating things for dog owners is when a dog runs away and won't come when called.

      I really hope this article helps.

    • Greatlife profile image


      9 years ago

      Insightful hub, some little steps can make a lot of difference with the way we communicate with the dog. Thanks for a good hub, rated it up.

    • Aiden Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Aiden Roberts 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for reading my hub and your comments,

      Whistle training is very useful and puppies respond very well to it. You can actually train a dog with a whistle and hand signals; need no verbal commands. I am working on that hub at the moment. Thanks again

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      a very helpful hub! our new dog is just over a year. we rescued him at about 7 months. he is doing well and was well trained when we received him. his owner just didn't have the room for him. I really like the whistle idea and think that it is very effective. well done!


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