The all important Recall!

This past weekend I witnessed a distraught Dubuque dog owner chasing her black lab through a number of city streets. She was in her car, zipping into drive ways, trying to keep up with him and convince him to get in. The dog was having none of it! In fact I’d say he was having a jolly old time bolting from her each time she got with in twenty feet. Her “GET OVER HERE!” vocalizations weren’t cutting it in convincing him to hop in the backseat.

I don’t think I need to spend much time convincing anyone on the value of a reliable recall. Not only does it make for a lot less frustration, it can save your dog’s life.

However, I would like to give those of you who don’t have any semblance of a recall a few tips on how to get your dog back to you in a pinch. So here are the Do’s and Do Nots of getting your dog to come to you.

Do Not:

  •  Yell At Your Dog: The stern or hysterical tone of ‘I’m so upset right now’ will not convince your way-ward pooch he wants to get near you right now.
  • Frantically chase him: The flailing arms and jerky movements look more like a game of catch me if you can than an invitation to come into your arms. The more you chase, the more he will move away from you.
  • Reprimand or scold your dog when he does finally return: If you punish him when you do finally catch him do you really think it increases your chances of him listening next time? Or does it do a better job of teaching him not to get caught in the first place? Instead keep your temper to yourself and call a trainer to sign up for some help.


  • Look happy, fun and glad to see your dog: He is way more likely to come to  you if you look inviting and behave as if you have some fun secret to share.
  • Make some fast or exciting movements AWAY from your dog: I know you want to go to him to catch him, but you are not quick enough. Instead run away from him as if there is some great surprise you are heading to. This can spark your dogs sense of intrigue and desire to play with you rather than run from you. If possible use this strategy to get him to follow you into the house or car.
  • Bend down and let your dog come all the way too you: Ignore your impulse to reach out and grab him. Let him come in, let him touch you, sniff etc. Pet him, praise him and then take hold of his collar…cause if you miss on that first attempt to snatch,  he’s just gonna take off again playing the you can’t catch me game.
  • Vow to invest the time and energy to teach him a reliable recall.

A dog who comes when called is a dog who can enjoy true freedom. The time you invest in training will pay off with much more piece of mind knowing the days of chasing down the street are over.