How to starting training the recall – “come”

A reliable recall can head off any number of circumstances that could have an unpleasant outcome otherwise. Come may potentially be the single most important command we can teach our dogs. In order to make the Come reliable, my first goal is to make it as fun as possible for the dog.

Do you remember how you felt the moment you heard the music from an ice cream truck, while playing with your childhood friends? My recollections are feelings of excitement and an overwhelming sense of urgency to beg, borrow, or steal some change and catch the truck before it would disappear until who knows when. This sense of excitement and urgency is what I want our dogs to feel when they hear us calling for them. We have to become the ice cream truck.

To teach a recall I typically start with a very high value treat. By high value, I mean something that is very special to the dog. Something like rotisserie chicken or another piece of meat that they wouldn’t otherwise receive.  Initially the training area should be free of things that distract the dog, and the dog should be hungry. You can use a leash to begin this exercise if necessary.

Begin by enticing the dog with the treat. Don’t give it to them yet, just briefly tease them by holding it at nose level in a partially closed fist. Once they are very interested, immediately take a few quick steps backwards, excitedly giving the recall command to the dog. As the dog follows you, immediately pause then reward with a treat and praise. Repeat a few times.

Once the dog is figuring out that the faster they get to you the faster they get the treat, start increasing the length of distance between you and the dog before recalling. We are making them work a little harder, but not too much. We still want to quickly walk backwards away from them when calling them. We pause when they give us their maximum level of commitment to getting to us, hopefully they are running toward us with excitement when we pause for them. The reward again comes immediately when they get to us.

Recall games can be fun and exciting for the dog, as well as for the family. For example, family members can stand at a reasonable distance apart from each other and call the dog back and forth between them. This can be very exciting for the dog and build the recall foundation significantly.

Initially I don’t ask more from the dog than to come to me with enthusiasm. If I start asking to sit or wait too long for a treat, they will most likely lose momentum. There is a time and place for that but a little later in the training. The intention of this article is to teach the dog that coming when called is very fun and rewarding.

Keep your sessions short and with the dog wanting more of the game when you end the session. Too much training can cause the dog to lose enthusiasm.

After your dog understands the concepts of the Recall and is coming to you with enthusiasm, it is time to increase the distractions. We would love to have the opportunity to help you develop a consistent and reliable recall with your pet. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

Crate / Kennel Training


A balanced dog is not stressed when left alone for reasonable periods of time. A dog that is properly introduced to a kennel will consistently enter their crate when asked and remain calm while confined. Dogs socialized with a kennel will often choose to go there on their own, when wanting a place to rest.

It is my philosophy that we should begin socializing our dogs with a kennel the day they come home with us.

At some point during your dog’s life, it’s likely that your pet may have a condition that requires isolation and limited movement. If they are not secure being by themselves and spending time in a kennel, it is likely that this will cause confusion and stress. The added stress post-surgery or injury could result in the dog injuring themselves further trying to escape from the kennel.

A crate/kennel aids in house training. Most dogs want to be clean and don’t want to relieve themselves if they can’t get away from their waste. Utilizing a size appropriate kennel can greatly speed up the house training process. Puppies, like small children, don’t have the body function control that an adult has. It is important to give them frequent breaks to prevent accidents in their kennel. During the house training phase, a kennel gives you a place to put the puppy when you can’t be supervising their activity.

Crate/kennel training can keep the dog from damaging property or potentially injuring themselves if left unattended. Utilizing a crate/kennel can help manage dogs with behavioral issues, such as aggression directed towards other pets. It can also aid during the introduction of another pet into the home. A kennel can be a great place to reboot a puppy’s brain when they get into extreme play frenzies and won’t redirect to an appropriate activity.

A crate/kennel can be a safe and clean option when transporting your dog in your vehicle. Active dogs that are free roaming in the car can cause distracted driving and create unnecessary risk. If a dog gets motion sickness, a kennel can be much easier to clean than your vehicle upholstery.


When introducing the crate/kennel, have a high value treat waiting for the dog outside near the entrance and inside the kennel. As the dog is exploring most will want to retrieve the treats. Leave the door open so they can enter and exit the kennel as they choose. Once they are entering the kennel without hesitation begin playing games that involve them entering the kennel. Toss treats or a favorite toy inside the kennel, when the dog is excitedly entering the kennel, you can add a command. If they are very reluctant to go in the kennel you may want to place their food in the kennel and make this the only place they can eat. This may require a little patience but they will eventually want to eat and will find their way into the kennel to do so.

Be creative and make kennel time a rewarding experience for the dog. In the early stages, you can give them a treat that occupies their attention and takes a while to finish, when closing the door.

Begin with short durations of alone time in the kennel. Don’t let them out while they are having a temper tantrum, or they may think that throwing a fit is a viable solution to open the gate. Some dogs may be able to have a bed in their kennel, and some may not. Bedding can become harmful if the dog were to damage and ingest some. If your dog is prone to chewing or gets separation anxiety, I suggest putting items in the kennel that can redirect their thoughts to a healthy activity. However you should not put anything in the kennel that they could destroy and injure themselves with.


Crate/ kennel time is a great way to help your pet become more balanced and self-confident when alone, it aids in house training, and provides a safe place to rest when needed. It also gives you options to keep them and your property safe when they are in chewing stages and you aren’t able to give them your  complete attention.