3. Come Back When Called

Exercise 3.6 - Teach Your Dog an Emergency Stop

Training your dog or puppy to do an Emergency Stop could be a life saver and is a vital part of your four legged friend’s education!


As always when teaching, make sure you have your dog’s full attention before you start so spend a few minutes playing and engaging with your dog first!


Fairly large easily visible treats work best for this exercise.


Step 1

  1. Toss a treat a little way away for your dog while you put some a little distance between the two of you.  Not too far to start off with but try to work up to a good 10 paces if you can.
  2. Be ready!  As soon as your dog looks back at you or starts to head towards you, with a straight upwards arm, throw the larger treat, with an overarm movement at your dog.
  3. At the same time as throwing the treat give a good firm ‘STOP’ command.
  4. The treat needs to land with your dog or preferably just behind your dog.
  5. You are just trying to get your dog to understand he/she does not come any further forward at this stage.
  6. Your dog is free to wander around and look for the treat.
  7. Let him/her find the treat then repeat the whole process.
  8. Do this several times in one session but don’t let your dog get bored.
  9. If your dog does not automatically look at you or start coming after to you after he has eaten the first treat you can encourage him by calling his name but DO NOT be tempted to use your recall command at this stage.  Your recall means come right to me so don’t confuse your dog.
  10. If your dog doesn’t see the treat and just comes running right up to you, praise him/her up but don’t reward then have another go but throw the treat under arm, almost under pups nose so he/she sees the treat arrive.  Do this a couple of times then go back to trying the overarm movement.


Make sure the treat is thrown some distance from you. Right from the start teach your dog ‘STOP’ is a distance away from you and not right up close to you.


Step 2

  1. When you have done step 1 several times you will probably find your dog is starting to hesitate when he hears the command or sees your arm go up.
  2. When this happens, stop throwing the treat as you give the command. Keep your hand up so pup knows the treat is coming and walk slowly towards him/her.
  3. When you get to your dog give the treat.
  4. You are now teaching your dog that STOP means stay on the spot and something good will happen for you when I arrive.
  5. Move this quickly on to the next stage by putting the treat over your dog’s nose as you arrive (just like when you taught sit), getting your dog to sit before giving the treat.
  6. Your dog is then learning that he/she not only stops on the spot but also sits while waiting for you to arrive.

If you start to walk towards your dog and he/she moves, don’t tell them off but don’t give the treat either or you will be rewarding your dog for moving. If this happens revert to a bit more practice at Step 1.


Do this a few times, but as you progress give your dog chance to drop into a sit automatically before you start walking towards him to deliver the treat.



Step 3


You now need to build up the time your dog will stay in the STOP.


Building the time is simply a case of giving the command and waiting before you start walking towards your dog. Build this up slowly like you would your sit stay.



Step 4


At some point you need to try out your command when your dog is moving away from you. Don’t attempt it initially when your dog is on the run, do it while your dog is just a short way from you.


You may need to use your dog’s name at this stage to get his/her attention first. There’s never any harm in adding your dog’s name in before the cue word.


Remember always do some recall practice after STOP practice.


For junior dogs don’t use COME then STOP all in the same process.  Keep your COME command sacred for now.

Take the steps above slowly and have fun with it. STOP is a great command to teach your dog. Train it well!


As with all the behaviours we teach our dogs, you need to train in lots of different environments so your dog truly understands the cue.  If you have got to Step 2 in one place when you go to somewhere new you may need to start at Step 1 a couple of times.


Remember your training principles. Don’t increase two things at the same time. If you teach your dog to sit to the STOP in the garden when you go to the park take it back a step because you’ve added in distractions.


If you try something at the next stage in the process and it doesn’t work just revert back to the earlier stage and try again.


Build on success and remember it must be just one command to save your dog’s life!



Exercise 3.7 - Recall-Front-Finish

In this exercise we work on a formal 6ft Recall with a Front and a Finish.  This is a lovely exercise to work through not least because it teaches the dog that even though the lead has come off you and he are still working and have a task to accomplish together – an important concept!


If you’ve already got into the (bad) habit of removing the lead and immediately allowing your dog to rush off then it will be time well spent rectifying this first!


Proceed as follows!

1.                   Sit your dog

2.                   Remove the lead

3.                   Take one step back and return

4.                   Reseat the dog if he moves – even an inch!

5.                   Repeat until successful

6.                   Build up to five steps back

7.                   Play break

8.                   Sit your dog

9.                   Remove the lead

10.               Take one step forward and back

11.               Reseat the dog if he moves an inch

12.               Repeat until successful

13.               Build up to ten steps forward


Once you’ve mastered this you’ll be ready for this exercise which starts with the Backwards Follow exercise.  You can then build on this to incorporate a short 6ft recall to the Front position.  Then all that remains is to teach your dog to ‘Finish’ by moving around your right hand side back into heel position and put everything together.


Here is the exercise description:

  1. Dog starts on lead in heel position in a sit or down position.
  2. The handler gives the dog a verbal cue and/or hand signal to stay and removes the lead.
  3. The handler will walk at least 6 feet away, stand normally, pause for a minimum of 1-2 seconds, and then call the dog to front with a verbal and/or signal. 
  4. After another minimum 1-2 second pause, the dog will be cued with a verbal and/or signal to finish to heel position.
  5. The dog must go directly to heel position and sit or stand within 30 degrees of correct heel position at the handler’s side.
  6. The exercise ends when the handler releases the dog from heel position.