Is your dog struggling with recall? Try these three trainer approved games

Woman handing treats to dog at her side
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recall is an important skill for any dog to learn. Most importantly, it helps keep them safe, but at the same time, it can improve your relationship, and give you peace of mind too. 

But some dogs are better with recall than others, for a myriad of reasons. It might be related to how you’ve trained them in the past, their personality, their breed, or their age. Here are just three reasons why your dog’s recall isn’t reliable (and what you can do about it).

And, of course, even the most well-behaved dog might decide now and again that they’d rather roll around in the grass, chase a cat or squirrel, or sniff some litter, rather than come back to you – even if you’ve got some of the best dog treats to hand. 

However, there are ways to improve your dog’s recall, while keeping things fun for them too! Amelia Steele, a certified dog trainer and behavioral consultant known as Amelia the Dog Trainer, has shared three games that can help improve your dog’s recall on Instagram in a recent post.  

The first game Steele presents is the ‘Bounce Back’. “Throw a treat out to the side,” she says, “and call your dog’s recall cue”. Once they catch up with you, simply mark ‘yes’ and throw the next treat. This game encourages them to come back to you - after all, they know they’re getting a treat.

The second game is ‘Puppy Sprint’. To start, throw a treat on the floor, and start running away from your pup. Steele explains, “As soon as they catch up to you, mark yes and throw the next one down. Keep repeating this, and throw in their recall cue once they get the hang of it.”

The third game you may want to try with your pup is the ‘Tug Toy Recall’, Steele says. Begin by shouting your dog’s recall cue and then running in the opposite direction with their favorite tug toy. When they catch up to you, give them a game of tug of war. While they might not be getting a treat, they know they’ll get to play one of their favorite games when they catch up to you. 

It’s important to be patient. If your dog has struggled with recall, you probably won’t see impeccable results in a day or two. However, trying these games and really working on recall over time may well give you the results you’re after. 

Treats not working? Here’s what one dog parent did to improve recall in their pup: I trained my border collie to have perfect recall – even though she had no food drive

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.