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Updated: May 14, 2018

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from the dog community in Dubai is:

“How do I get my dog to come back?”

Of course, we’re not talking about at home.  Most dogs will easily come when called inside.  We’re talking about outside, at the dog park, at the beach, or anywhere else that your dog may have convinced you to let her off-leash.

Today, we’ll go over some of our favorite tips and techniques to build a reliable recall outside the house.

First, remember that for many dogs, the world out there is very enticing, distracting, and often much more interesting than their human.  It’s your job to prove to your dog that you can be even more fun and rewarding.  This can be difficult, even with standard treats, as your dog sees you all the time.  But here are some guidelines to help even the score.

Rules to prevent poisoning your recall:

  • Except for emergencies, only recall your dog when you are confident she will listen and return, or you have some way to physically bring your dog back, such as a leash.

  • Only recall your dog for something good, don't call your dog to scold her.

  • Use a supportive harness during training to reduce the chance of injury.

  • Add new distractions slowly.

  • It takes hundreds of repetitions to build a reliable recall outdoors and off-leash, so repetition and patience is key.

Ideal recall sequence:

Call your dog, look for a head snap towards you, then say “come.”  However, if your dog has already learned to ignore "come," then start teaching a new cue, such as “over here.”  When your dog returns to you, ask for a sit, then offer a reward for a job well done!

Step by Step Guide:

1.  Prepare 3 rewards.

Find the top three things that your dog loves the most and experiment using these three things as your reward for coming back.  Don’t forget about toys, belly rubs, or a fierce game of tug o’ war.  Try rotating between these rewards to keep your dog guessing.

2.  Get your dog’s attention.

Call your dog’s name.  Your dog should turn its head to look at you when you call her name.  Practice first with treats in front of your face.  Then move the treats elsewhere.  Then practice with hidden treats.

3.  Practice hide and seek indoors.

Hide, then call your dog to come.  When she finds you, act very excited and reward handsomely with enticing treats and praise.

4.  Practice recall on a 6 foot leash outdoors.

Try not to reel your dog all the way in.  Do everything you can to convince your dog to come to you.  Be fun and exciting.  Increase the value of your treats.  If there is no response, try backing up while holding the leash, and encourage your dog to return the remainder of the distance on her own power.

5.  Practice running away from your dog.

Do this first in a large fenced-in area without too many distractions.  Call your dog’s name, and tell her to “come.”  Then immediately run away from your dog, to entice your dog to chase after you.  When she catches you, act very excited and reward handsomely.  Ask for a “sit” as well when she gets good at catching you.

6.  Practice using a long line.

Practice first in a large fenced-in area.  Attach a 20 ft, 30 ft, or even 50 ft line to your dog’s harness.  Walk your dog with a 6 ft leash, and make a big deal out of releasing the 6 ft leash.  Let the long line drag on the ground for a few minutes so your dog thinks she is off-leash.  Begin practicing when your dog is just a few feet away.  Ask for a recall and convince your dog that you are more interesting and rewarding than the surrounding environment.  If your dog doesn’t respond, step on the long line to restrict her access to the environment, but don’t pick up the leash.  Wait until she turns her head back to look at you.  Act very excited, and start backing up, to help entice your dog to return to you.  Gradually increase the distance at which you ask for a recall.  But do not be predictable, and do not allow your dog to discover the length of the long line, by asking for a recall when you are past the length of the line.

7.  Practice off-leash.

Practice first in a large fenced-in area with your dog close by.  Call your dog’s name.  Does she turn her head to look at you?  Only ask her to come if she turns her head, and you’re confident she will return.Adding images and videos to your posts is a great way to grab readers’ attention. Writing a text post? You can style it too with bold, italics, quotes & more!

Damage control:

Sometimes your dog will not come when you call her.  She may not understand what you are asking her to do; she may think free play is much more fun than returning to you; or she could be apprehensive that something bad might happen if she comes to you.

Here are some tips to get your dog’s attention back when your dog does not return after calling her:

  • Act extra happy and exciting to convince your dog that coming back will be well worth it.

  • Hide from your dog.

  • Run away from your dog.

  • If you have a toy such as a ball, or even a rock or stick can work, throw it to get her attention and to convince your dog that the fun is not ending.  Try to start a game of fetch, or at least chasing the object you are throwing, and before you throw it again, your dog should come closer and closer.

  • Do not chase your dog.  Your dog will simply learn that she is faster than you.

Recall can be a very important exercise that can help get your dog out of trouble in an emergency.  Working towards a reliable recall takes patience but will one day be well worth the effort.  Hopefully, these suggestions are helpful in building that all-important bond with your furry friend.

Much Love, Much Laughter.




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