Recall is a command that all dogs need to know. It’s easy to teach with pups, and often quite easy with older dogs, simply because dogs like to do things with humans. Call your dog, and reward him when he comes to you. Use whatever you think will attract your dog at first, some pups respond better to funny noises, like squeaks, than to their own names. Squeaky toys can be very useful for teaching recall, as can squatting to make yourself interesting. If your dog likes ball games, holding up a ball can encourage him to come back. Start off practising recall indoors over a short distance, within the same room, then when you’re in another room from your dog, then try outside in a safe, enclosed area. If you can't find an enclosed area, use a long line, so the dog has no option but to come back when you call.

Long lines are useful for teaching recall in an enclosed space, and on walks until your dog is reliablel. First you need to get used to using a long line, and make the dog aware of the restrictions it imposes, by walking around and changing direction. Then call ‘here’, or another recall word, and move backwards, and praise your dog as he moves towards you. When he reaches you, you can put him in a sit, with a reward such as a treat.


Coming when called means more than just knowing the command. It means that wherever your dog is, and whatever other attractions there are, he comes when called. So if you rarely call him on walks, and usually just let him do his own thing, he's less likely to see recall as very important. The more you use the command, and the more it's obeyed, the more solid the recall.

Dogs often go deaf when they’re following a scent, they’re so focused on the smell that they actually can't hear you. If there are places where your dog regularly goes deaf and chases rabbits or squirrels, use a long-line and practice recalls there. There are special collars that release a citrus smell that reminds a dog following a scent that his owner exists. A whistle can also be a great help in the countryside, though it might attract more dogs than yours in a park.

Whistles are very versatile for distance work, allowing you to give a range of commands at a distance without losing your voice. Gundog and sheepdog books are good sources of information on whistle training. While recall can get your dog out of most tricky situations, a 'stop where you are command' can be extremely helpful, especially if there’s busy traffic between you and your dog. A 'stay' or a 'down' at a distance can also useful, and both can be taught with a whistle.