Time, patience and these three trainer-approved tips will dramatically improve your dog’s recall

German Shepherd running towards camera
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Do you have a canine companion that won't come when called? Even armed with the best dog treats, many of us struggle with recall training, but the good news is, it doesn't have to be that way.

There could be many possible reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable, with distractions in their environment often being top of the list. However, certified trainer Christie Katan says there are many ways to improve your dog's recall.

In a post shared to Instagram, Katan outlines three of her favourites — and they may just surprise you! Read on to find out what they are...

1. Give them more access to freely enjoy the things they love: "Have you ever been stuck indoors for a long time (maybe you were sick or cramming to finish a project before a deadline) & reached a point where the only thing you wanted to do was step outside for some air?," Catan asks. 

“Pet dogs” live with so many restrictions on their behavior & those restrictions can influence the relative value of various stimuli in their environment. By giving them plenty of access to do their favorite things, the value of those “distractions” may weaken relative to some of our reinforcers for recall!"

2. Recall them LESS: Catan says that having your dog pick you over whatever is going on in their environment can be quite reinforcing, which is why people tend to recall their dogs a lot. However, this can create several problems. 

"If you call your dog when they’re unlikely to come, you might teach them that your recall cue is irrelevant in that context," explains Catan. "Also, calling them to end the fun or to have a scary bath could actually punish their recall."

3. Play with them in lots of different settings: "Play is a magical thing," says Catan. "If you & your dog play at home, take the show on the road! Start low distraction & work your way up. Play builds a shared history of fun together, & that can influence how likely they are to recall."

If you feel your pup would benefit from some extra support with their recall, it may be worth reaching out to a professional trainer. Just be sure to read our guide to how to spot dog trainer red flags first to ensure you're working with someone who is appropriately qualified. 

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.