Hit a wall with recall training? Try this trainer's silly trick that actually works

Collie running toward the camera
(Image credit: Getty)

Recall training, or teaching your dog to come when called, is a fundamental skill that every dog owner wishes to conquer. A solid recall not only alleviates the worry of losing your pup while walking but it also strengthens the bond between you and your canine companion. 

Sometimes the approach owners take to training is one of the main reasons your dog's recall isn't reliable. If you've hit a wall with recall training and are looking for a fresh approach, certified professional dog trainer and the founder of Thinking Canine, Gia Savocchi, has a clever trick up her sleeve that can transform the way you train your dog to come when called. 

With a degree in Clinical Animal Behavior from the University of Edinburgh, Savocchi has a wealth of knowledge in canine behavior and has discovered the power of a playful game that can make a significant impact on recall training. You can watch the game being put into practice below in a video she shared on Instagram.

The game is ridiculously simple. It is all to do with running away from your dog. You may be thinking how do you incorporate it into recall training? 

Savocchi suggests using a whistle recall or the word 'come' as your command. The idea is to distract your dog with something, whistle or yell 'come' and then quickly run away from your dog. As you draw your dog's attention and encourage them to chase after you, reward them when they reach you. The reward could be verbal praise, physical touch or perhaps the more popular option amongst canines - hand them some of the best dog treats.

"By running away, you’re drawing your dog to you and encouraging them to run faster every time they hear you call." explains Savoccchi. "When they get to you, you can reward them or you can ask them to sit and reward them after that. We do like to eventually reward them for the sit because that’s what our finished recall looks like."

This game is a great one to incorporate into your recall training sessions because you are engaging your dog's natural instincts and creating a fun and exciting environment that motivates them to respond quickly and eagerly to your call.

There is no way to guarantee that this will work for every dog out there. For example, if you have a dog who suffers from separation anxiety, they might freeze or panic when they see you run away from them. Or if you have worked hard learning how to calm a reactive dog, this game could be over-stimulating for your reactive pup.

If you're thinking of trying out this training game with your dog,  practice it in a safe and controlled environment first. Then, if you have success you can gradually increase the level of distractions and distance.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.