Dog won’t come when called? You need this trainer’s three fun games for a reliable recall

Woman with Dalmatian dog on woodland path
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you struggle to get your dog to return to your side when you call them, rest assured, you're not alone. Many of us let our dog's off leash in parks or other safe areas only to find that they end up having so much fun that they're not so keen to come back when it's time to head home.

While the best dog treats can certainly be used as a training tool to encourage your pup to come when called and reward good behavior, expert dog trainer Amelia Steele says making recall fun is often the key to success.

In a video shared to Instagram, Steele reveals three of her favorite games to play with dogs when she's trying to teach them rock solid recall - and none of them involve treats. You can check out the video below or keep reading for a summary of each game.

Game 1: "For this first game, you'll need two tug toys. Start off by getting your dog really interested in one of them and then drop it, get the other one out and call your dog's recall cue. Move backwards and forwards between the two toys and repeat their recall cue each time."

Game 2: "For the second game, throw a toy away from you to distract your dog and then shout their recall cue and start running away with another tug toy. As they catch up, give them a really good game of tug."

Game 3: "For the third game, all you're going to do is walk away from your dog. As they catch up and get in front of you, simply turn and say 'this way'. Keep repeating and you can use this any time you want your dog to come running back."

Making recall training fun is a great way to motivate your pup and encourage them to return to you when you issue their recall cue. However, if you find after working with your dog on their recall for several months that they're still not able to come when called, we recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for some 1:1 support.

For more great tips and tricks check out our guide to how to play with a dog where our vet shares her top tips for safe and fun play with your pup.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.