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10 Steps to Train A Dog to Come When Called

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Of all the problems that dog lovers encounter, recall–or training your dog to come when called–is one of the most frustrating. We’ve got professional dog trainer advice from Alicia Evens on 10 ways to train your dog to come, a skill that’s important for your dog’s safety.

How to Train A Dog to Come in 10 Steps!

Dear Alecia,

Our dog Max, an 18-month-old GSD, is nearly perfect EXCEPT when we call him to come. Whether he is out or inside, walking or playing he acts like he doesn’t hear us when we call “come.”

This causes us frustration because he could be in harm’s way but he doesn’t stop what he is doing when he is off leash.

He has had basic training and we are with him walking, playing, hanging out everyday. The only exception to this behavior is when he goes somewhere in the truck, my husband can say “let’s go” and he jumps in! –Diana

Hi Diana,

You are right to be frustrated with this behavior, more probably due to the fact that when you cannot rely on your dog to come, it can cause you a lot of fear that he could get hurt.

The way I train come before we move to off leash work is teaching it on lead. You mentioned that he is nearly perfect in all other ways so I am assuming you give him the benefit of the doubt by allowing him off leash.

Here’s what I recommend on leash:

1. Start by asking your dog for a sit and stay.
2. While your dog is in a stay, turn and face him repeating the stay command.
3. Praise him if he is staying and take a step back.
4. Each time you step back to the end of the lead and he is staying, praise him.
5. When you get to the end of the leash keep him on a stay for a moment.
6. Ask him to come while you are backing up.
7. When he comes to you, praise him; if he does not come you have the leash to direct him.
8. Repeat 3-5 times and go about your day. Repeat the series 4-5 times a day.
9. Each day you can move back a little farther from your dog.
10. You can attach two leashes together as well to increase the distance but still have control over your dog.

By doing this exercise, this will help you and your dog build your energy connection at further distances and that will develop a deeper trust and respect and your dog will be off leash in no time in a safe way.

Paws Up!

Alecia Evans, PDT, MA

Dog Trainer

Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes.

The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine,, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.

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10 Steps to Teach Your Dog to Come When Called

Bryson Fico

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

Worked like a charm! Lexi now comes yo us every time she is call, even at the dog park.

Bryson Fico

Thursday 19th of August 2021

Thank you for the sit and stay command steps. I am happy to report that your strategy is working. We are able to back up further and further each and every day.

Bryson Fico

Sunday 18th of April 2021

Excellent strategy! I am going to give it a try. It will make dog walks more enjoyable and it will give your dog more freedom in open and uncontested areas


Sunday 8th of November 2020

I'm going to try and use this on other types of animals! This is so helpful!


Monday 5th of October 2020

Hi, This is great advice in an aspect that is quite tough to train. All of us at have had trouble with recall with our individual pets, and for me personally it is still something I struggle with. I'll definitely have to try this out!