How To Increase The Chances Of Your Dog Coming Back When You Call

Coming when called is one of the most important commands that you can teach your dog. Dogs that do not come back when called can get lost, or injured. Because it is such an important command every dog should learn it. Here are a few tips to significantly increase your dogs chances of coming back when you call.

Have you ever heard the term “Catch 22?” The phrase became popular after the novel by that name was written by Joseph Heller in 1961. Wikipedia defines the phrase as: “Catch-22” is common idiomatic usage meaning “a no-win situation” or “a double bind.”

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Here is one example from the book: “The Texan turned out to be good-natured, generous and likable. In three days no one could stand him.” The case against Clevinger was open and shut. The only thing missing was something to charge him with What does all of this have to do with significantly increasing your dog’s chances of coming back when you call?

Because one of the secrets to getting your dog to come back to you is like a Catch 22 situation, or if Joseph Heller were to write it, it would probably sound like this: “The secret to getting your dog to come back to you when he is off-leash is to let him spend some time off-leash.”


You see, the big problem with dogs not coming back to their owners is not that they don’t understand the command, not that they don’t like you, and not even that there is something else distracting your dog.

The big problem with your dog not coming back to you is… YOUR DOG’S LACK OF FREEDOM. If you look at the way many dogs live, you’ll see that most of them live under some type of confinement.

They spend long periods of time in a house, in a fenced in yard, in a crate, in a car, on a leash etc. The last thing your dog is thinking about when he gets a little taste of freedom is coming back to you.


I once heard a story of an owner who had a German Short Haired Pointer that had been confined to the house and tied up for seven long years.

For whatever reason, the owner after seven years decided he wanted to train his dog. He showed up for a training session and thought that the area he was in was fenced and let his dog off-leash. Within seconds his dog was out of sight. He became very angry with his dog as he chased after him.


After he caught his dog (which was not easy) he didn’t understand that what his dog did was natural. That after seven years of confinement his dog was likely to take off. That in order for his dog to ever get good at coming back to him, the dog would have to develop a sense of freedom.

You may be thinking; “How the heck do I let my dog develop a sense of freedom?” There are a couple of ways to do this. One of the best ways is to get a 30 to 40 foot long line.


Attach it to your dog’s collar and go to a big open field. With the long leash attached to your dog, let your dog just be a dog. Let him or her sniff, play, run around and do dog stuff.

Stay close to the long line, this way you can step on the line if your dog starts to get too far away. Then when you call your dog, you can use the long line to get your dog to come to you and reward him or her with treats when they do.


I also recommend tying some knots in the long line. This way if your dog starts to run and you step on the long line the knot will help slow down your dog. You can also go to a fenced in ball park or tennis court.

The more you allow your dog to just be a dog and run around,  the easier it will be for your dog to come back to you.


Another option when going to the park is using a harness and a leash boss, 1 inch thick 100 foot long leash for medium to giant breeds at the park when playing fetch and repeating the call back and reward method.

If you follow any of these simple tips you will significantly increase your dog’s chances of coming back to you every time when you call. Go ahead and try it out.

2 thoughts on “How To Increase The Chances Of Your Dog Coming Back When You Call

  1. This is such an interesting but obvious idea! I never looked at it this way, but it makes so much sense. We inadvertently did this with our dog Fanny (the long line) and she has become somewhat reliable off leash at the house. But recently I took her for a hike in our woods with a handful of really high-value treats. I worked on clearing a trail and let her explore around me. When she started to venture out of sight, I called her and gave her treats. She had so much fun – running zoomies all around me and bounding back every time I called (something she rarely does at home – where I have to basically act like I’m going to leave her outside to get her to follow me in). Reading this post made it clear that when Fanny gets all that time racing around the woods, she’s happy to come to me, but when it’s just a short, supervised period out in our yard she is less excited to come to me. I’m going to think more about this – thanks for opening my eyes a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

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