Trainer reveals one thing you can do to build a reliable recall with your dog — and it’s really effective

Cute Corgi posing in between its owner's legs
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For many of us, one of the most frustrating parts of being a dog owner is trying to get our canine companions to come back to us when we call them.

There could be many reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable, but distractions in their environment are often top of the list. Your dog is likely having too much fun running about, interacting with other pups, and sniffing, to want to return to your side when you ask them to — even when you try to tempt them with a few of the best dog treats!

But as you probably already know, building a reliable recall is incredibly important in helping to keep your dog safe when the two of you are out and about.

The good news is that regardless of how inconsistent your dog currently is with their recall, there's a super simple thing you can do to turn things around and it all comes down to teaching 'middle' — which means teaching your dog to come through, or sit between, your legs.

Read on as expert trainer Amelia Steele reveals four reasons why this training technique is so important for building a rock solid recall...

1. It takes the pressure off: "So often I see people get into situations where they are basically in a stand off with their dog and the longer that tension builds the less likely your dog is to come back to you," explains Steele.

"So with middle, instead of your dog feeling like they have to come straight back to you to go on the lead, you can get them back using a fun, positive behavior, with no existing association of going back on leash."

2. It puts your dog in a convenient position: Steele says that another reason she loves to use middle for recall is that it puts your dog in a position where you can easily grab their collar or harness without having to reach over their head. "This also really helps for dogs who try to dodge you as soon as they clock that you might want to put the lead on them," she says.

If your dog is a serial leash dodger, check out this guide for lots of helpful ways to get your dog to come back to you on off leash walks

3. It keeps your dog out of the way: "Often if we’re passing people or dogs on a narrow trail, having my dog go to middle is a great way to keep them focused on me while letting others pass," Steele explains. "I much prefer it to telling them stay, and again, it also gives me easy access to their harness or collar if needed!"

4. It makes your dog value being near you: "Lots of the time, dogs will take a treat and then run off to carry on what they’re doing. By working on middle, You’re building continued value in being right near you which really helps to build a positive relationship with recall and being with you. I always say the best recall is one you don’t have to ask for!," Steele says. 

For more simple tips to help make time spent outdoors more enjoyable for both you and your canine companion, our clever ways to have more fun with your dog on walks have got you covered! 

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.