Want your dog to come when called? Trainer shares surprising tip for an impeccable recall every time

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Have you ever had that experience of letting your canine companion off their leash only to struggle to get them back again when it's time to head home? Most of us dog owners know what it's like to repeatedly call our dog's name only to have them be so immersed in what they're doing that they completely ignore us!

There could be lots of reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable and distractions in their environment is certainly a common one. But according to expert trainer Adam Spivey, we pet parents often unknowingly make an error that reduces the chances that our dog will come when we call them.

In a video shared to Instagram, Spivey says that overusing your dog's name in a negative way can almost make them immune to it, causing them to tune you out and continue doing what they're doing, even when you're needing them to return to your side. So, what's a dog owner to do? Read on to find out! 

"If you want your dog to come every single time you call it, stop using your dog's name in a negative way," Spivey explains. "Stop using it every single time you tell them off."

Spivey says that if we're constantly saying things like "Fido, stop it. Fido, leave it. Fido get down," the dog starts to see their name as being associated with bad things. 

"When you go 'Fido, come', the name has been used so much in a negative that Fido's not going to come running to you. Every time your dog hears its name in the beginning they should be rewarded heavily for it so that when they hear Fido they come running because they know that word is great."

Unlike humans, dogs don't know names the way that we do, they just know that the sound of their name has an association to them. "If you're unintentionally creating a negative association to that word more than you're creating a positive, that's why your recall is failing," Spivey says.

You can absolutely use your dog's name, but like Spivey advises, try to use it in a positive way whenever you can as your dog will sense your energy and respond accordingly. 

Enjoyed this piece and looking for more great training tips and tricks? Then be sure to check out our guides to three of the most common loose leash walking mistakes (and how to fix them) and how to stop a dog from jumping up.

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.