The Recall Training Secrets You Need to Know

The Recall Training Secrets You Need to Know

Recall is often what people struggle with the most when it comes to dog training. Whether you’ve never quite managed to master teaching your dog to come when they’re called, or your dog used to listen beautifully in the past but now stubbornly ignores you, this is something that you need to fix ASAP.

Good recall is so important. It’s not only a key part of basic obedience training, but it’s also something that’ll keep your dog safe throughout their life. So, if recall training is something you’ve been struggling with, read on – we’ve got all the tips you need to know to get your dog back on the right track.

Re-think Your Cue Word

Before you even start recall training, you need to pick a suitable cue word. This is the word that you’ll shout to your dog to ask them to return to you.

“Come” and “here” are common and easy to remember cue words. However, if you’ve already used them and your dog has ignored them in the past, you’ll need to pick something different. Your chosen cue word should be used only for recall training – don’t overuse it and definitely don’t use it if you’re about to ask your dog to do something they don’t enjoy, such as get into the bath. Your recall cue word needs to be kept positive.

Play Recall Training Games

Recall training games are a fun way to teach your dog to come when called. You’ll need two people for this – one on either end of a room or garden. Then, take it in turns to call your dog over using your chosen cue word.

Each time your dog responds, give them a tasty reward (we’ll talk more about this soon). Keep your sessions short and positive – you want your dog to enjoy them!

Always Follow Through

So, what happens if your dog ignores you when you call them over? This is where consistency is important – you must always follow through.

For this reason, when you first start recall training, it can be useful to keep your dog on a leash. You don’t need to hold the leash – let it trail on the ground behind them. Then, if you call them over and they ignore you, pick up the leash and give it a firm but gentle tug to redirect your dog towards you. Use your cue word again and slowly reel them in at the same time.

You should never allow your dog to disobey your recall cue word and get away with it. If you do, they’ll continue ignoring you in the future.

Use Some New Rewards

The rewards that you use when recall training are extremely important. When you first start recall training, your treats should be as high-value as possible.

So, don’t reach for your dog’s daily kibble to use as a recall training treat. Instead, pick foods that you don’t often give them, whether this may be small chunks of cheese or small pieces of roast chicken. Find something so enticing that your dog wouldn’t even consider ignoring you.

That said, it’s important to mix up the treats that you use. Roast chicken may be tempting to begin with, but after repeated training sessions, your dog will soon get bored. Keep your treat selection exciting so that your dog never knows what to expect, other than something very tasty!

Giving dog a treat

Slowly Add in Distractions

One mistake often made by owners is that they’ll teach their dog recall at home with great success, only to find that their training goes right out the window when they try calling their dog over while they’re out and about. Sound familiar?

This comes down to a lack of training. Yes, your dog’s recall may be solid in your garden, but your garden doesn’t have all of the distractions that your local dog park has. No matter how tasty your rewards may be, they’re not going to be able to compete with the exciting sights, sounds, and smells that surround your dog when you take them out.

The best way to overcome this is to slowly add distractions in yourself when recall training. Once your dog responds every time you call them at home, move to your backyard. Once recall is solid there, start adding in distractions one at a time. You could ask a friend to come round and play with a ball in the background while you’re training, or invite another dog over to wander around your garden while you’re practicing. Remember the recall training game we mentioned earlier? Try playing this again, but with different distractions around. However, only introduce a more difficult distraction once your dog has fully mastered recall with the previous one you’ve added in.


Many owners find recall training difficult, but it’s actually pretty simple so long as you’re consistent and follow the right steps. If you still find yourself struggling to teach recall, check out our free dog training workshop for some extra tips and tricks.

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