Ideally, like all puppy training, teaching your dog to come when called should commence as soon as you bring your puppy home. Decide between you and your family what the recall command will be and stick to it. Either the command “Come” or your puppy’s name is commonly and appropriate used.
Older dogs that haven’t been taught proper recall, will often be a lot harder to train than a younger dog or puppy.
A dog that was successfully recall trained from a very young age, on the other hand has a very good habit formed of learning proper obedience training.
Starting With The Basics
Start teaching your dog to come inside a room of your house or space where there are as few distractions as possible and keep the training sessions short to keep your puppy interested. (A couple
of minutes at the most). If there are minimal distractions such as other people, and chew toys and furniture in the room or space that you have provided, this will help your puppy learn in the early stages of training as it will help your puppy remain focused and learn faster.
Call your puppy over to you from a few feet away using the cue that you and your family have selected. (Either the command “come” or the new puppy’s name). Use high value treats and lots of praise and attention when your puppy comes to you.
While keeping the training sessions short, repeat this process many times until your puppy comes to you every time.
After this stage, start to gradually increase the recall distance between you and your puppy. Keep rewarding your puppy with high value treats and lots of praise every time it succeeds. Again, repeat many times until the puppy succeeds every time you say the recall command you’ve chosen. This is establishing reliable recall with your puppy.
Applying the same trick, but in a different environment
Keep practicing the the recall training in different areas of your house and gradually introduce some other distractions, such as people, animals and toys.
Once your puppy is reliably returning on your recall, if your veterinarian has given you the all-clear to take your dog outside, start recall training in your yard on a long-line.
Commence training at a very short distance with no distractions, and then progress to a long distance with several distractions. Repeat this process many times, making sure to reward your dog for every successful recall made.
Once you have mastered this, then repeat the process off the long-line, following the same procedure outlined above. Repeat this over and over, until the recall is reliable.
It is important to note here, that whenever you puppy loses interest in what you are teaching them, immediately stop the training session, and put your dog back inside.
Keeping Up The Treats
Always reward your dog after a successful recall. While you don’t have to keep giving your puppy treats when it’s more experienced with your training, you can always supplement the treats with praise. For example, after a while give your dog a treat on every second successful recall, and gradually spread the treat reward process out.
However, if you stop rewarding the behavior altogether, your puppy may find other things (such as other dogs and people) more rewarding than obeying the recall.
If you dog obeys a recall under high distraction, such as when there are lots of other people and dogs around for example, make sure you give them an extra special reward. This shows your puppy that they did a really good job!
If you attempt to call your dog and it doesn’t respond, DO NOT give chase and continue to call them over and over again. Instead, wait until your puppy is less distracted and try again.
When Things Go Wrong (Troubleshooting)
During your recall training, your puppy doesn’t respond to you, find out what the possible cause may be.
Is the environment they’re in currently TOO stimulating for them for this aspect of their training? Are the rewards you’re using aren’t “rewarding” enough?
Once you’ve worked out what the reason may be, go back a couple of steps in the training to when your puppy was last successful. Then repeat the process, and continue through the stages at your dog’s own pace, until successful.
Further Reading On Teaching Puppy Recall: