Teaching Dog Recall Using The Paper Plate Method

Teaching your dog to come to you when you call him is an important command that can save your pooch's life if he ever gets off his leash while you are out for a walk. Using the paper plate recall method developed by renowned trainer Dick Russell is a fun way to teach this necessary skill, because the game format of this training method helps your furry friend learn while enjoying your time together.


Step #1 - Tell your dog to sit, then stay. Put a paper plate on the ground about 1 foot away from your dog and place a small dog treat on it. Tell your dog to go get it and let him eat the treat.

Step #2 - Call your pet back to you after he eats the treat. Use a short phrase like, "Come here, boy!" or simply "Come!" in an excited voice so your pooch comes quickly and is ready to keep playing. Shorter commands are easier for dogs to understand. Repeat until your dog reliably returns after eating the treat.

Step #3 - Change the location of the paper plate, moving it farther away from you and your dog and repeat Step 2. Repeat this several times, moving it farther away each time. Remember to tell your furry friend to stay each time before you walk away to put the plate down.

Step #4 - Add a second paper plate after your pet is used to playing this training game with one plate. Put the two plates an equal distance from you and your dog in opposite directions. Tell your pooch to go get the first treat, then call him back before sending him over to the second one.

Step #5 - Vary the game after your pet is used to the two-plate drill. Put a plate behind him before sending him to the treat, or call him back before he reaches the plate and give him a treat from your hand instead, if he obeys your unexpected recall command.

Step #6 - Once he reliably returns every time you call him to you during your paper plates drill, call him randomly to you throughout the day whenever he is a good distance away from you (or even running away from you) in order to test his recall skills. Remember to treat him every time he obeys. With time and patience, he should come when called whether treated or not!

Important: To avoid confusing your dog, always be sure your dog is comfortable and adept at each step in his recall training before moving on to the next step.

By Lynne Vanders

About the Author
Lynne Vanders has been writing professionally since 2010. Previously an insurance agent, she has guest written several blogs and been published in "Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine." Vanders holds a Bachelor of Science in English from Iowa State University.