Stubborn Dog Training: Effective Tips for Teaching Come When Called

Having a stubborn dog can be challenging, especially when it comes to training them to come when called. However, with the right techniques and approach, you can overcome these challenges and teach your furry friend the essential skill of recall. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies to train stubborn dogs to come when called, understand their behavior, build a strong foundation, and troubleshoot common issues along the way.

Understanding your dog’s behavior

Identifying stubborn behavior in dogs

Stubborn behavior in dogs can manifest in various ways, such as ignoring commands, resisting training, or displaying selective hearing. It’s important to recognize these signs and understand that your dog’s behavior is not a reflection of their intelligence or loyalty but rather their individual personality traits.

Recognizing your dog’s motivations

To effectively train stubborn dogs, it’s crucial to understand what motivates them. Each dog has unique preferences, whether it’s treats, praise, playtime, or a combination of these. Identifying what your dog finds most rewarding will help you tailor your training approach accordingly.

The impact of breed and temperament on training

Different dog breeds and temperaments can influence how stubborn or independent they are. Some breeds may have a higher tendency to be headstrong, requiring more patience and persistence during training. Recognizing your dog’s breed traits and adapting your methods accordingly will lead to more successful training sessions.

Building a strong foundation

Establishing trust and a positive relationship

Building a strong foundation based on trust and positive reinforcement is vital for successful training. Spend quality time bonding with your dog, engaging in activities they enjoy, and providing consistent rewards for good behavior. This establishes a positive association and sets the stage for effective recall training.

Mastering basic commands before recall training

Before diving into recall training, ensure that your dog has mastered basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” These commands serve as building blocks for recall training and help establish a clear communication channel between you and your dog.

Using positive reinforcement techniques

Positive reinforcement is a powerful training method for stubborn dogs. Reward your dog with treats, praise, or play whenever they respond to the recall command. Positive reinforcement creates a positive association with coming when called, increasing the likelihood of your dog repeating the behavior.

Implementing effective recall training strategies

Using a consistent recall cue

Choose a recall cue that is easy to remember and distinct from other commands. Consistency is key, so use the same cue consistently during training. Examples of recall cues include “come,” “here,” or even a whistle sound. Reinforce the recall cue with positive rewards to encourage your dog to respond.

Practicing recall in controlled environments

Start recall training in a controlled and distraction-free environment, such as your backyard or a quiet room indoors. This allows your dog to focus on the training without being overwhelmed. As your dog becomes more reliable in controlled settings, gradually introduce distractions to increase their responsiveness in challenging situations.

Gradually increasing distractions during training sessions

To train stubborn dogs effectively, gradually expose them to distractions while practicing recall. Start with mild distractions, such as toys or low-level noise, and reward your dog for coming when called despite the distractions. Gradually increase the difficulty by introducing more enticing distractions, such as food or other animals, reinforcing their training and self-control.

Overcoming challenges and setbacks

Dealing with resistance and stubbornness

Stubborn dogs may show resistance during training, but it’s important not to get discouraged. Stay patient, persistent, and avoid getting into a power struggle with your dog. Adjust your training techniques if needed and focus on reinforcing positive behavior rather than punishing unwanted behavior.

Modifying training techniques for individual dogs

Every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Adapt your training techniques to suit your dog’s personality, learning style, and motivators. Some dogs may respond better to shorter training sessions, while others thrive with longer sessions. Tailor your approach to your dog’s individual needs.

Patience, consistency, and perseverance

Training a stubborn dog requires patience, consistency, and perseverance. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a well-trained dog. Celebrate small victories, stay committed to the training process, and understand that progress may come in gradual increments. Consistency and a positive mindset will yield long-term results.

Troubleshooting common issues

Addressing fear or anxiety-related problems

Some stubborn dogs may display fear or anxiety-related behaviors that hinder their recall training. In such cases, it’s important to create a safe and supportive environment. Gradually desensitize your dog to triggers that cause fear or anxiety, using positive reinforcement to build their confidence. Seek professional help if necessary to address underlying anxiety issues.

Handling distractions and high-prey drive dogs

For dogs with a high prey drive or a strong attraction to certain distractions, recall training can be more challenging. Use management techniques, such as a long training leash, to ensure your dog’s safety and prevent them from running off. Incorporate recall training with controlled exposure to distractions, gradually reinforcing their ability to come when called even in tempting situations.

Seeking professional help when needed

If you’re facing significant challenges or struggling to make progress with your stubborn dog, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Professional dog trainers have experience working with various behavioral issues and can provide valuable guidance and tailored solutions to address your dog’s specific training needs.

Maintaining a reliable recall

Reinforcing training throughout the dog’s life

Training is an ongoing process, and it’s essential to reinforce recall training throughout your dog’s life. Regularly practice recall exercises, even with well-trained dogs, to maintain their responsiveness. Incorporate recall training into daily activities and make it a fun and rewarding experience for your dog.

Regular practice and reinforcement sessions

Consistency is key to maintaining a reliable recall. Schedule regular practice sessions to reinforce the training. Set aside dedicated time to work on recall exercises, gradually increasing the difficulty and adding new challenges to keep your dog engaged and responsive.

Continued positive reinforcement and rewards

Continue using positive reinforcement and rewards, even after your dog has become reliable with recall. Keep the training sessions enjoyable by incorporating praise, treats, or playtime as rewards for coming when called. This strengthens the bond between you and your dog while reinforcing their recall behavior.


Training a stubborn dog to come when called requires patience, understanding, and consistent effort. By understanding your dog’s behavior, building a strong foundation, implementing effective training strategies, and troubleshooting common issues, you can overcome the challenges and teach your dog this essential skill. Remember to adapt your techniques, stay positive, and seek professional help when needed. With dedication and perseverance, you can successfully train even the most stubborn dogs to come when called.


Q: How long does it usually take to train a stubborn dog to come when called?
A: The time required to train a stubborn dog varies depending on various factors, including the dog’s individual temperament, previous training experience, and consistency of training. It can take several weeks to several months to achieve reliable recall.

Q: Is it possible to train an older dog to come when called?
A: Yes, it’s possible to train an older dog to come when called. While older dogs may have established behaviors, they can still learn new commands and behaviors with proper training and consistency.

Q: Can I use punishment to train a stubborn dog to come when called?
A: Punishment is generally not recommended when training a stubborn dog. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, are more effective in encouraging desired behavior and building a positive association with recall.

Q: My dog gets easily distracted outdoors. How can I train them to come when called in such situations?
A: When training your dog to come when called outdoors, start in a controlled and familiar environment, gradually introducing distractions. Use a long training leash to prevent your dog from running off and reinforce their training with positive rewards for coming when called despite the distractions.

Q: What should I do if my dog refuses to come when called?
A: If your dog refuses to come when called, avoid chasing or getting angry. Instead, try using higher-value rewards, such as special treats or toys, to motivate your dog. Review your training techniques, ensure consistency, and seek professional help if needed to address any underlying issues.

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