Training Cocker Spaniel Recall: Dog Trainer Secrets that Work Every Time

July 26, 2022

Cocker Spaniels are inquisitive, active dogs. This means that they love to explore new places and investigate interesting scents. For this reason, it's common for many owners to have Cocker Spaniel recall problems.

If he ventures too far away from you or escapes through a hole in the fence, it’s important to know how to get him to come back when you call him.

With these helpful tips and tricks, your Cocker Spaniel will come running every time so you can avoid potentially dangerous situations. This will also work for your pet spaniel whether you have a puppy, adult, or rescue dog.

Training Tools to Use

  1. High-value treats such as hot dogs, boiled chicken, or training treats and a treat bag.
  2. A long lead.
  3. Your chosen command word OR
  4. Optional: a whistle if you'd like to do whistle training.

Getting Started Using a Long Line

A long line is a length of rope or cord that you can attach to your dog’s collar. This line is typically sold from 25 to 50 ft in length. A 25-foot leash is recommended, any longer and you may be too distracted with keeping the lead untangled.

This is an excellent training aid for Cocker Spaniel obedience training.

First, let's talk about common mistakes. Dogs learn best when we use our body language wisely. When training your dog to come when called with a long line, do not face him. Think about it: when you're squared up to your dog with your towering body facing him, what is your body language telling him? It's telling him to stop or stay.

What you want is for your dog to come, or in other words, to follow you. Therefore, the trick is to call your dog using their command word, give their leash a slight tug, then walk in the opposite direction. Their natural reaction will be to follow you. Do not drag them to you, give a slight tug on the leash. Aside from that, always have a loose lead.

While it may not be ideal in the long run to turn your back on your dog, it's good practice in the beginning because it gets repetitions started quickly. You can stop moving in the other direction and practice a more neutral posture once your dog's recall has become relatively automatic.

Walk Backward as your Dog Comes Back

Professional dog trainers call this "perceived distance". What this means is even if you're using just a 25-foot leash to train your dog, you can create perceived distance by calling your dog and walking backward while he's traveling to you.

This is how many gun dog training professionals conduct their training with Cocker Spaniels because they often need their dogs to come back to them from far distances while hunting.

This works because regardless of the length of the leash; when you're walking backward your dog is actually traveling twice the distance or more. This also encourages your dog to perform his recall command with enthusiasm because your movement makes you more engaging.

Use Treats to Train your Cocker Spaniel to Come When Called

Other dogs may not be so enticed by the smell, but Cocker Spaniels are a working dog breed that loves to use their nose. When you’re training your Cocker Spaniel to come when you call him, use nice, smelly treats as a reward in combination with verbal praise. As soon as your dog comes to you, give him a treat to let him know that he did a great job.

Repeat this process over and over again, and you will see that your Cocker Spaniel will learn to come to you whenever you call him. Make sure to use the same command whenever you’re training your dog to come when you call him. This will help him remember the command and will make it easier for him to come to you when you call him later on.

Don’t Give Up – Repetition is Key

Like all training, it takes time and patience to get your dog to come when you call him. It’s best to start training your Cocker Spaniel to come when he’s a puppy. You can start by calling your Cocker Spaniel to come towards you when he’s just a few months old.

Once your Cocker Spaniel is older and has learned the command, you can practice getting him to come when called in different environments, such as in the park or around other animals. Don't forget to bring your long line when in new environments.

Don’t give up if your dog doesn’t come the first time you call him. It may take many repetitions for your dog to fully learn the command. Gradually increase the distance and distractions around which you train your pup.

Other Important Training Tips

  1. If your dog comes when you call him but is mischievous or you’ve had to call several times, don’t ever punish him for coming when you called him. In any case, your dog technically still did as he was told. No dog will continue to do a behaviour they associate with a negative outcome
  2. Do not call your dog with the recall command word you’ve chosen to put him in his kennel, punish him, or take him away from a fun activity for the same reason mentioned above. Use a different word for these instances.
  3. Be fun and exciting. Using an authoritative tone of voice can be intimidating to the dog and will work against you.
  4. If you have two people, try restrained recall commands. This is when one family member holds the dog back for a few seconds while you call your pooch to you. Your dog will be excited, begging to be released. Your partner will then release your dog by letting go as he takes off like a rocket. Practicing restrained recalls teaches the dog to come faster and with enthusiasm.
  5. Do not repeat the command over and over when your dog fails to listen. This teaches him that he can ignore you. If this is happening, odds are you have removed your dog’s long line too soon in the training process. Put the lead back on and keep it on for several more training sessions before trying to remove the lead again.
  6. Don't chase your dog. Unless your Cocker Spaniel is going into a dangerous situation don't run after them. Your dog will view this as a game and think you are playing. This will hurt your progress and make it take longer before you have their recall problems solved.

How Long Does it Take to Teach a Dog Recall?

From starting training your dog to having a well behaved who comes back every time you can expect it to take between three and six months before your dog is fully trained.

After you have completed the training you won't have to incentivise it with treats every time.


It's recommended that you start at an early age with a young dog. A puppy will be far more receptive to training than an older dog. An adult or senior dog will still get it, but it will just take time.

In fact, most dogs that are good at coming when called started recall training as young as 8 weeks old. You should start dog training as soon as the puppy is settled in their new home.

As said before, repetition is key and aim to have your dog obey on the first command. Practice with your long line in new environments and around distractions often.

This command could save your dog's life one day, so it’s worth the time and effort. Many dog owners have had close calls over the years where their dog has almost been in danger. I know I certainly have!

The advice in this article works for a working Cocker Spaniel or show Cocker. As long as you put in the effort you will be rewarded by a dog who comes back every time you call.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
Spaniel Advisor aims to be the top online resource for sharing information about all Spaniel breeds. 
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved.