Meet Link!

Link is a 4-year-old charming mixed breed. Link’s mom is moving to the UK and is looking for some off-leash tips and training for Link before they move.

With an adult dog, the best way to teach off-leash control and Coming When Called (a.k.a. Recall) is to start easy and in small places. Practice sessions should happen in a small room of the house (like the kitchen or a bedroom).

The goal is to teach your dog that if you say their name, when they come to you, they get something delicious!

Recall Training Steps

Start INDOORS first and play The Name Game:

  1. Wait until your dog is looking away from you.
  2. Say your dog’s name.
  3. The INSTANT your dog turns to look at you say, “Yes!” and reward them with praise and treats when they come.


Make sure your dog comes ALL THE WAY to you so you can grab their collar. You can achieve this by holding the treat close to your leg when you call your dog.

You are grabbing the collar to ensure your dog learns to come close enough to be held, but also, to teach your dog that being touched on the collar is a good thing!

It is helpful to use HIGH VALUE (special rewards) treats/food that your dog doesn’t get at any other time, e.g. SMALL pieces of chicken breast, cooked chicken livers, cheese, hot dogs, bacon, sausages, turkey…

Try not to overdo the length of each training session. Repeat The Name Game exercise 5 to 10 times in a row.  Then quit and take a break or play with your dog for a while. Practice this exercise every day.  Keep it FUN and FAST!

Gradually Increase Difficulty

Once the Coming When Called is very reliable in one room, slowly begin to introduce new rooms and involve other people while playing The Name Game.

  • Practice throughout the house, i.e. the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, in every bedroom and, if you have them, in the attic or basement.
  • Try playing with two or more family members, i.e. “Doggy Ping-Pong” – your dog is bouncing back and forth from person to person!

Gradually Increase Distractions

Once the Coming When Called is very reliable in every room of the house and with other people, gradually add distractions to each room:

  • Throw their favorite toys around the room and see if you can get them to leave a toy to come to you.
  • Have a family member enter the room and call your dog away from them.
  • Practice calling your dog while she is chewing a bully stick, or self-grooming, or sleeping, etc.

Once you can get your dog’s full attention by calling their name inside, then you’re ready to start training outside.

To learn more about Coming When Called check out Zen Dog Training Online!