Training a dog to come when called is often referred to as a “recall.”

It is ironic that owners go to great lengths to train their dog NOT to come when called, and then complain about it. They want someone to wave the magic wand and have their dog drop everything it’s doing, including chasing birds at the beach, digging in the yard or romping with other dogs, and instantly come racing over to the owner. That is PhD level obedience. The first thing we have to do is undo the training the owner has already done, then proceed with kindergarten level obedience before achieving the results the owner desires. So how has the owner so systematically trained the dog not to come when called?

Sabotaging the Training

The worst practice the owner engages in is letting their dog off leash and unattended. Whether the dog is running in the park, romping on the beach or playing with other dogs, the dog is learning that these good times do not include the owner. In fact, it is always the owner who ruins the fun by ordering the dog to “Come.” When the dog obediently comes to the owner, his leash is promptly attached and he’s on his way home. This is not a good outcome from the dog’s perspective so on each successive outing, the dog delays coming when called because by delaying, he is prolonging his off leash fun. When the owner repeatedly calls the dog and he does not come, then the dog is learning that he doesn’t have to come – or at least he doesn’t need to come until he is called umpteen billion times. The dog has now learned that ignoring the owner is infinitely more rewarding than obeying the owner. This is definitely a lose-lose situation. If the dog comes, he is punished for coming because his off leash fun is curtailed. If the dog doesn’t come, he is learning not to come and he is being self-rewarded for ignoring the owner.

Another outcome of the above situation is that the now frustrated owner feels he needs to punish puppy for not coming when called. Because the owner does not know how to punish the dog while it is running away, the owner punishes the dog when he eventually returns. The next time the dog will take even longer to come back because not only does it end the fun but it also now means outright punishment from the owner if he does comply.

Training What Come When Called Means

To many dogs, the command “come here” means, “quick, run the other way!” There are countless examples of how the owner trains the dog not to come by unintentionally “punishing” the dog when it does come. Every time the dog is called to engage in an activity that the dog doesn’t enjoy he is learning that the command, “Come here,” is bad news. The owner should never call the dog to come and then give him a bath, clip his nails or confine him. Even if the owner’s planned activity is not unpleasant for the dog, just the fact that it isn’t as much fun as the activity the dog is currently engaged in is enough for the dog to choose not to obey. It’s better for the owner to just go and get the dog for these activities rather than ruin an otherwise rapid recall.

Some owners intentionally punish their dog when it comes. Often this is done when the dog has misbehaved (especially chewed or soiled the house). The owner shouts, “Come here. Bad dog!” When the dog arrives, he is punished. After the dog has been clobbered once or twice for complying, not surprisingly, he will be reluctant to do so again.

A puppy or adult dog is always learning whether we intend to teach them or not. Formal obedience training sessions are usually short and infrequent compared to the day to day and minute to minute training (or more appropriately – untraining) we do with our dogs. In order to correct this type of problem the owner must first be aware of how he or she is unintentionally training undesirable behaviours in the dog. One or two instances of “punishing” the dog for coming when called can undermine weeks and weeks of formal training. Owners must learn to incorporate positive training into the dog’s life and daily routine. Until the dog is reliably trained to come when called, he should not be let off leash.

The average owner who attends a training class with his or her dog practices the exercises at home on the average of 5 minutes a day. An exceptional owner practices perhaps 15 minutes a day. What happens with the dog the other 23 hours 45 minutes each day? Every time the dog and owner interact, the dog is learning something even though the owner may not be intentionally trying to teach the dog anything. Dogs are always learning.

Prime the Training Pump

The first step is to test if the dog is motivated and ready to learn. At the dog’s regularly scheduled meal time, take a nugget of kibble and wave it in front of the dog’s nose. If the dog does not show enthusiastic interest in the food, then this is not the right time to begin training. Training should be delayed for an hour or so until the dog shows interest. You may have to skip one meal entirely to get the dog motivated. Don’t worry, Puppy will not starve to death if he misses one meal. Overindulged pets that are constantly showered with affection, attention and tid bits will be more difficult to motivate. Most will have the attitude, “Why bother learning something new for a piece of kibble when I can just look cute and get steak?” If you are serious about training, then you must withhold all treats during the day, put the dog on a strict feeding schedule (no ad lib feeding) and adhere to this during the training period. Tid bits will be reintroduced a little later in the training. For dogs that are absolutely finicky and underweight (not fat and spoiled) then either the food can be made more appealing by coating it with something especially yummy like baby food chicken or gravy or use other motivators (keep reading).

Basic Come When Called Training

As soon as Puppy says, “Yes, yes! I’m hungry, I’ll do anything for that food,” then you’re ready to begin. Introduce the simple recall by giving the dog a couple of nuggets of kibble for free, then quickly back up a few feet and say, “Come Here.” Hold the food in an outstretched hand at the dog’s nose level. Praise the dog all the time that she approaches and give the food as soon as she arrives. Once the dog comes readily, add a sit to the end of the recall and take hold of the dog’s collar before giving the food. Many dogs will come and sit, then duck or run away to avoid being touched. They will not allow themselves to be touched because past experience has shown them that this usually means bad news (from the dog’s point of view, not yours).

The exercise may be repeated several times in a row with you quickly running backwards between recalls. At a more advanced level of training, the dog may be instructed to sit-stay until called. Repeat this sequence with every nugget of every meal. Make certain this exercise is performed when the dog is really motivated. If at any time the dog loses interest, stop the training immediately and don’t allow the dog to eat anything else until the next regularly scheduled mealtime and practice session.

Once the dog is responding regularly, it is time to start to thin out the food rewards. Rewards should be reserved for the dog’s better responses, i.e., only those times when she comes quickly, directly and happily. Reward with one fourth to one third of the dog’s meal instead of only one kibble or handful. During maintenance training, on average, the dog should receive one food reward per five times that she comes obediently.

More Come When Called Exercises

Now that the dog understands the basics of the exercise, it is time to make training even more fun. Perform the To & Fro and Hide & Seek (described below) exercises between meals with your dog’s favourite treats. Again, be sure the dog shows interest in the treat you’re using. Use miniscule pieces – this is a treat, not a meal. I suggest one quarter inch square pieces or smaller of chicken, cheese or liver. In other words, real food, not boring milk bones. The better the reward, the quicker the dog learns and the longer the dog retains what has been learned.

A very simple, enjoyable training exercise is a back and forth recall. Two or more people should stand ten yards or so apart. One person calls the dog to come and instructs her to sit-stay until another of the human participants calls the dog to come. Practice this exercise in the house and yard. Most dogs love this exercise and in exuberant anticipation of the commands, may madly rush back and forth, like a deranged yo-yo. Either, do not let the dog break her sit-stay until she is called, or if the dog is not being asked to stay, then someone other than the person the dog is running towards, should do the calling. Only the person who calls the dog is allowed to give a treat. We don’t want Puppy to think that all he has to do is charge up to someone and they will automatically dispense food.

Hide and Seek Training

When the dog catches on to the game of To & Fro, then the human participants can begin to spread further apart turning the To & Fro recall into a game of Hide & Seek. Two or more people begin in the centre room of the house. Each time after they have called the dog to come, they go further away from the place they started. As the game progresses, eventually one person will be in the master bedroom, the second person in the guest room and the third in the kitchen and so forth. The dog does not simply run up to the person calling, he has to find that person first. This game is an especially good reinforcement tool because not only does it appeal to many of the dog’s natural instincts, but it also associates the words “come here” with the owner with fun instead of dread.

Random Recalls and Other Training Motivators

There are times when we know the dog will come: when the owner says, “Do you want to go for a walk?” or “Ride in the car?” or “Where’s your ball?” Many dogs come running to the owner just upon hearing car keys jingle, or when the closet door where the leash is kept is opened, or the cupboard that holds the treats is opened. Periodically and randomly throughout the day, happily herald such events with the cheerful announcement “Come here.” For example: before giving any clues that a walk is being offered, call the dog to come. If she comes, hold out the leash and ask her to sit, put on the leash and go out for a walk. If she does not come, pick up the leash, waggle it around, put it away and ignore the dog. She will probably regard you suspiciously, perhaps thinking, “How come my owner picked up my leash and now we are not going for a walk?” The next “come here” usually produces an immediate response. With enough repetition your dog will think, “I don’t know what those words “Come here” mean, but whenever I hear them I better hustle over to the owner as quickly as possible because something terrific is going to happen.”

Distraction Training

Don’t let a fun activity such as running free and playing with other dogs become a distraction to training. Instead, use it as a reward. Show the dog that if she comes when called, she will receive plentiful praise, a food treat and then be allowed to resume her play session. Try to be a part of your dog’s good times, so that she learns it is not the end of the fun just because you tell her to come. When you first take the recall training exercises outside, practice in areas with the least amount of distractions. Begin with the dog on a long leash. It’s absolutely important that you are able to enforce your command should the dog refuse to obey. Don’t allow your dog to ignore you. If you call a couple of times and the dog ignores you, use the long leash to make the dog come. It will take many repetitions of “Come Here, go play” before the dog is convinced that its freedom is not going to end just because the owner has called. Gradually add more distractions only when the dog succeeds with minimal distractions. When you find you no longer have to enforce your command, then it is time to try the exercises off leash. If at any time the dog regresses, then simply go back to square one and begin again. Don’t take the dog back to the park off leash again until you have done some retraining. In most cases, all it takes is for the dog to get away with disobeying once and the dog realizes that he can do it again and again.

It’s a good idea to practice all these exercises all the time anyway if you want to maintain the dogs level of obedience and prevent bad habits from reoccurring.

Basic Dog Training

From basic obedience commands to advanced tricks, dog training is a rewarding and engaging experience for you and your dog.

Just as every new human member of a household must be trained to behave properly, so must dogs. Everyone in the household is better off if the dog conforms to the behaviour expected of it.

That applies to the dog, too.

By nature, your dog wants your approval. It wants to please you (most of the time, anyway!). But it can’t do that without being taught what you expect of it.

During your dog’s life you may decide to teach it to perform all manner of impressive tricks and tasks. Those are optional. But the following types of training should be considered as absolutely essential for every dog owner.


If your dog spends any time indoors, toilet training is an absolute necessity – for very obvious reasons! Toilet training is often a time of trial and stress for everyone involved. But be patient, use the proper training techniques, and there’s sure to be a happy outcome.

Start when the dog is young – about 3 to 4 months of age. Any earlier, and your puppy probably won’t yet have sufficient bowel and bladder control. And if you start later, the training period is likely to take much longer.

When you begin the training, start by confining the puppy to a fairly restricted area – a single room, the length of a tethered lead, or even a crate. As your puppy begins to learn that ‘business’ is to be conducted outside, you can gradually expand the area that it’s allowed to roam.

Here are a few tips for effective toilet training:

•Regular mealtimes. Keep your puppy on a regular feeding schedule during toilet training. That means no snacking between meals! If it’s not mealtime, food shouldn’t be available to the dog.

•Offer frequent potty opportunities. Give your pup plenty of opportunities to take care of business outside. Go outside first thing in the morning, and then every 30 to 60 minutes throughout the day. And also take your puppy outside after it wakes from a nap or finishes a meal.

•Familiarity breeds comfort. Take your dog to the same spot outside every time. Your dog will recognize its scent and more readily do its business.

•Stay out with your dog. When you take your dog outside for a potty break, stay with it until it has taken care of business, or until it becomes obvious that it doesn’t need to just yet. Don’t just turn the dog out in the yard by itself.

•Praise success! When your doggie does its duty, praise it! Offer a treat, or something the dog really enjoys, like a walk.



Teaching your dog basic obedience is also a necessity. While an obedient dog is a pleasure to be around, the opposite is also true – a disobedient dog can be a real pain!

You can take your dog’s training to a much higher level if you choose to, of course. But at the very minimum, your dog should learn to respond to the following basic commands:

•Sit. This basic command helps you to keep control of your dog no matter the situation, and is a good command to teach first.

•Drop. This teaches your dog to instantly drop whatever is in its mouth. (Could save your dog from harm if it ever picks up something dangerous or toxic.)

•Stay. Teaches your dog to remain still, calm, and in one place.

•Heel. Teaches your dog to stay close to you as you walk, with or without a lead.

•Come. Teaches your dog to immediately come to you upon your command. You should begin to teach this command to your puppy as soon as it recognizes its name. This command could potentially help you protect your puppy from harm.

There are a number of dog-training methods available for teaching your dog these commands, but the Australian Veterinary Association recommends positive reinforcement as the best method.

Positive reinforcement rewards wanted behaviour rather than punishing unwanted behaviour. This method of training makes learning more enjoyable for your dog, and will help to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.



Teaching your dog the basic commands of obedience will make your household a much more pleasant place.

Your dog will be happy because it wants to please you, and because it wants to reap the rewards of good behaviour. You will be happier because your dog will be more manageable and will enrich your life.

And visitors will be happy not to have to endure a poorly behaved pooch rampaging through the house!

Biting is most common in young puppies and new dogs

Especially in play and while teething. It’s up to you to teach your puppy or dog what is acceptable and what is not. Most dogs and puppies are generally loving, sweet, adorable, affectionate and wonderful 99% of the time. Only 1% of the time does something specific happen that makes the dog bite. There are many causes of biting and here’s what you can do to prevent your puppy or dog from biting.

Dogs and Puppies Must Learn to Inhibit Biting

First of all, a puppy must learn to inhibit their bite before they are 4 months old. Normally, they would learn this from their mother, their littermates and other members of the pack. But, because we take them away from this environment before this learning is completed, we must take over the training for biting.

Socialization Helps Prevent Biting

By allowing your puppy to socialize with other puppies and socialized dogs they can pick up where they left off. Puppies need to roll, tumble and play with each other. When they play, they bite each other everywhere and anywhere. This is where they learn to inhibit their biting. This is where they learn to control themselves.

If they are too rough or rambunctious, they will find out because of how the other dogs and puppies react and interact with them. This is something that happens naturally and it is something we cannot accomplish. It can only be learned from trial and error. There is nothing you can say or do to educate them in this realm. They must learn from their own experience with another dog or puppy.

Another major advantage of dog to dog socialization besides the fact that it will help your dog to grow up not being fearful of other dogs is that they can vent their energy in an acceptable manner. Puppies that have other puppies to play with do not need to treat you like littermates. So the amount of play biting on you and your family should dramatically decrease. A puppy that does not play with another puppy or dog is generally much more hyperactive and destructive in the home as well.

Lack of Socialization Causes Biting

A major cause of biting is lack of socialization. Lack of socialization often results in fearful or aggressive behaviour. The two major reactions a dog has to something it is afraid of are to avoid it or to act aggressive in an attempt to make it go away. This is the most common cause of children being bitten. Dogs that are not socialized with children often end up biting them.

The optimum time to socialize is before the dog reaches 4 months. With large breed dogs, 4 months may be too late, simply because at this age the puppy may already be too large for most mothers of young children to feel comfortable around. For most owners, the larger the dog is, the more difficult it is to control, especially around children. If there is anything you do not want your dog to be afraid of or aggressive towards, you must begin to socialize your puppy with them before 4 months of age.

Trust and Respect Inhibits Biting

There are many other reasons your puppy will bite and you will have to take an active role in teaching them about biting. However, before you can teach your puppy anything, there are two prerequisites that are essential. They are trust and respect. If your puppy doesn’t trust you, there is no reason why he should respect you. If your dog does not respect you, your relationship will be like two 5 year olds bossing each other around. If your puppy does not trust and respect you, then when you attempt to teach your puppy something, he will regard you as if he were thinking, “Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?”

Use of Reprimands and Biting

Never hit, kick or slap your puppy. This is the quickest way to erode the puppy’s trust in you. Yes, he will still love you. Even abused dogs love their owners. A unique characteristic of dogs is their unconditional love. You don’t have to do anything to acquire your dog’s love. But you must do a lot to gain your puppy’s trust and respect. Another area where we destroy our dog’s trust in us is when we scold or punish them for house training mistakes and accidents.

Summary Tips on Biting

1. Reprimand alone will never stop biting.

2. If no respect exists, the biting will get worse. If you act like a littermate, the puppy will treat you as one.

3. If trust is not there, the dog may eventually bite out of fear or lack of confidence.

4. Inconsistency sabotages training. If you let the puppy bite some of the time, then biting will never be completely eliminated.

5. Don’t forget follow up. The puppy must understand that it is the biting that you don’t like, not the puppy himself. Make up afterwards, to cultivate trust and confidence in the puppy.

Most owners wait until a bite just “happens to occur” before trying to deal with it and are therefore totally unprepared when it happens – and do all the wrong things, thus making the problem worse.

Crate Training is one of the most efficient and effective ways to train a puppy.

The single most important aspect of puppy training is that you reward and praise your puppy each and every time she does the right thing. For example: praise her when she chews her own toys instead of the couch or eliminates outside instead of in the house. The more time you spend with your puppy, the quicker and easier it will be to train her.

The key to house training is to establish a routine that increases the chances that your puppy will eliminate in the right place in your presence, so that she can be praised and rewarded; and decreases the chances that your puppy will eliminate in the wrong place so that she will not develop bad habits.

It is important that you make provisions for your puppy when you are not home. Until your puppy is housetrained, she should not be allowed free run of your house. Otherwise, she will develop a habit of leaving piles and puddles anywhere and everywhere. Confine her to a small area such as a kitchen, bathroom or utility room that has water/stain resistant floors. Confinement is NOT crate training.

What is Crate Training?

Crate training can be an efficient and effective way to house train a puppy. Puppies do not like to soil their resting/sleeping quarters if given adequate opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. Temporarily confining your puppy to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate and defecate. However, there is still a far more important aspect of crate training. If your puppy does not eliminate while she is confined, then she will need to eliminate when she is released, i.e., she eliminates when you are present to reward and praise her.

Be sure to understand the difference between temporarily confining your puppy to a crate and long term confinement when you are not home. The major purpose of confinement when you are not home is to restrict mistakes to a small protected area. The purpose of crate training is quite the opposite.

Short term confinement to a crate is intended to inhibit your puppy from eliminating when confined, so that she will want to eliminate when released from confinement and taken to an appropriate area. Crate training also helps teach your puppy to have bladder and bowel control. Instead of going whenever she feels like it, she learns to hold it and go at convenient scheduled times.

Crate training should not be abused, otherwise the problem will get drastically worse. The crate is not intended as a place to lock up the puppy and forget her for extended periods of time. If your puppy soils her crate because you left her there too long, the house training process will be set back several weeks, if not months.

Your puppy should only be confined to a crate when you are at home. Except at night, give your puppy an opportunity to relieve herself every hour. Each time you let her out, put her on leash and immediately take her outside. Once outside, give her about three to five minutes to produce.

If she does not eliminate within the allotted time period, simply return her to her crate. If she does perform, then immediately reward her with praise, food treats, affection, play, an extended walk and permission to run around and play in your house for a couple of hours. For young pups, after 30-45 minutes, take her to her toilet area again. Never give your puppy free run of your home unless you know without a doubt that her bowels and bladder are empty.

During this crate training procedure, keep a diary of when your puppy eliminates. If you have her on a regular feeding schedule, she should soon adopt a corresponding elimination schedule. Once you know what time of day she usually needs to eliminate, you can begin taking her out only at those times instead of every hour. After she has eliminated, she can have free, but supervised, run of your house.

About one hour before she needs to eliminate (as calculated by your diary) put her in her crate. This will prevent her from going earlier than you had planned. With your consistency and abundance of rewards and praise for eliminating outside, she will become more reliable about holding it until you take her out. Then the amount of time you confine her before her scheduled outing can be reduced, then eliminated.

Mistakes and Accidents during Training

If you ever find an accident in the house, just clean it up. Do not punish your puppy. All this means is that you have given her unsupervised access to your house too soon. Until she can be trusted, don’t give her unsupervised free run of your house. If mistakes and accidents occur, it is best to go back to the crate training. You need to more accurately predict when puppy needs to eliminate and she needs more time to develop bladder and bowel control.

Puppy Tearing Things Up?

Puppy chewing and generally destroying stuff is as normal for puppies as tail-wagging. If you have a puppy, expect chewing. Provide your pup with his own toys and teach him to use them or he will destructively chew anything available, such as your furniture, carpet, clothing or shoes.

Dogs do not chew and destroy your house and belongings because they are angry, jealous or spiteful. They do it because they are puppies. They may be lonely, bored, frustrated or anxious, but they are not malicious, vindictive or petty.

Active puppies can become restless when left alone for long periods. If you always come home at a certain time and you are late, your puppy may become anxious. Your puppy does not punish you for being late by destructive chewing. The puppies’ chewing is a form of occupational therapy to relieve stress and release energy.

If you come home and find that your puppy has destroyed something, do not punish the puppy.

Passive Training to Prevent Chewing Problems

Until your puppy can be trusted not to destroy your home and yard, do not give him free, unsupervised run of your house. Give him a pleasant area or room of his own where he can enjoy himself and relax when you are not home or are unable to supervise him.

Literally litter his room with a wide variety of toys. Since he will have no other choice of things to chew, he will learn to chew and play with his own toys. Make the toys enticing. Soak rawhide and long marrow bones in different flavoured soups. Let them dry and give a different flavour to the puppy each time you leave him alone.

Sterilized marrow bones and Kong toys can be stuffed with liver treats or cheese. The puppy will be entertained for hours trying to extricate the treats from the toy. You could also bury these toys in a digging pit.

Active Training to Prevent Destructive Chewing

When you are home, take time to teach your puppy to play with her toys and to seek them out whenever she feels like chewing. Always lavish your puppy with praise every time you see her playing with or chewing on one of her toys.

Teach your puppy to “find” her toys. Scatter several toys in different rooms throughout the house. Tell her to “find it,” then immediately lead her from room to room encouraging her to pick up a toy when she sees one. When she does so, reward with praise, affection, play and even a food treat, then continue the game.

Anticipation Chewing

Most destructive chewing occurs just before the owner returns home. The puppy is anxiously anticipating the owner’s return and this energy is released by chewing.

You can prevent your puppy from indiscriminately chewing whatever is handy and instead chew her own toys. Whenever you return home, insist that your puppy greet you with a toy in her mouth.

At first you will have to help her by telling her to “find” her toy. Do not give your usual home coming greeting until she has a toy firmly in her mouth. Within a few days, your puppy will realize that you never say hello unless she has a toy in her mouth.

Now when your puppy starts anticipating your return, she will automatically begin looking for a toy with which to gain your greeting and approval when you do return. If a toy is already in her mouth, she will be likely to chew on it, rather than on the furniture, to release tension.