Train your dog to ignore distractions and come back to you with these three simple tips from an expert

Side view of purebred retriever being fed a dog treat from owner
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's no doubt about it — nailing the perfect recall can be a tricky old skill, both for you to teach and for your dog to master. 

While there could be many reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable, distractions in the environment are often top of the list. 

So, how do we set ourselves (and our dogs) up for success when it comes to recalls in high-distraction environments?

Well, alongside having plenty of the best dog treats on hand, expert trainer Alex Sessa has shared some additional helpful tips in an Instagram video.

Read on as we reveal what they are...

1. Be careful with your recall word: "We want our dogs to see recalls as the BEST experience, so be careful not to overuse your recall word and always reward with something EXTREMELY high-value for your dog," says Sessa. 

2. Reward consistently: "Unlike other behaviors that are rewarded more intermittently, we recommend rewarding recalls with extreme consistency. We recognize that life happens and there will be recalls that don’t get rewarded but try your best to make that the exception and not the norm," Sessa advises.

3. Ensure your dog doesn't see the recall as a punishment: "Make sure your dog doesn’t see the recall as a punishment — and I’m not just talking about obvious punishers like scolding or otherwise scaring your dog for an imperfect recall.

"But let’s think about another punisher — the end of fun! Even if you reward your recalls well, be sure you aren’t always using them to take your dog away from something they were enjoying," explains Sessa.

So, what would be a good example of recalling your dog away from something fun?

Well, according to Sessa this could be something like calling them inside and rewarding them when they've just caught the scent of a chipmunk in the backyard and are busy sniffing the ground. 

"Over time, your dog’s recall may become less reliable, even though you reward well!
So be sure that sometimes, you recall your dog, reward them, AND let them go back to what they were doing."

But what if your dog isn't food motivated? I trained my Border Collie to have perfect recall — even though she had no food drive has some great advice on how you can use a toy instead of food to reward 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.