Are you making this mistake with your dog’s recall training? Canine expert reveals one thing you don’t want to do

Dog evades owner on beach
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're a dog owner, then you've likely had the experience of letting your canine companion off their leash only to have them sprint off and refuse to come back to you when you call them.

There are lot of possible reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable, but top of the list is the sheer number of distractions in their environment that pull their focus away from you. 

However, according to expert trainer Carolyn, the founder of Good Dog Training, there's a simple mistake we pet parents can make that can also make our dogs reluctant to come when we call them — and that's punishing them.

If your dog has terrible off-leash behavior, the last thing you want to do is scold them for eventually coming back to you, that will only decrease the chances of them returning to you in the future. Carolyn explains more about this below...

"No matter how long you've been trying to get your off-leash dog to come back, no matter how frustrated and embarrassed you are — DO NOT punish them when you finally catch them," Carolyn stresses.

"You think you're punishing your dog for ignoring you for 20 minutes, but your dog is just associating coming back to you (or being caught) with punishment. They'll remember that next time."

Carolyn says that when you get your dog back you want to avoid the angry tone and rough handling and instead be glad you got your pup back and think about how you can prevent the situation from happening again in the future.

"When you get your dog back, take a deep breath and remember — they don’t understand what you’re saying only HOW you say it. Returning to you should always be full of joy and excitement."

So, next time your dog runs off and you can't get them back, avoid punishing them when you finally do as this will only make things harder for you in the long run.

Instead, praise and reward them for returning. Do this with patience and consistency and you'll see their recall begin to improve. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.