Trainer shares seven simple tips to build a solid recall — and number three is so important

Dog shaking owners hand
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If you're anything like most pet parents, having an obedient dog who comes when you call them is no doubt high on your priority list. And yet for many of us, undertaking recall training with our dog can feel like a challenging and frustrating process.

A lot of pet parents struggle with this, so rest assured that you're not alone if you're experiencing a similar issue. There could be several reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable but thankfully expert trainer Sean O'Shea has some great tips on how you can turn things around.

In a post shared to Instagram, O'Shea walks us through seven things we can start doing today to improve our dog's recall, and they couldn't be easier. Read on to find out exactly what they are and how to put them into practice...

1. Make it a good deal: "Make it so much fun for your dog to run to you that they eagerly await another 'come' cue," advises O'Shea. "Avoid calling your dog for unpleasant things, like putting the leash back on or bath time, and don't be stingy with rewards."

2. Reward, don't bribe: "Never show your dog a treat or toy to get them to come. This will backfire when you call your dog and they check your hands and realize you don't have anything for them. They should come before seeing the reward."

3. Make it fun: "The more fun you are, the easier it is for your dog to come running," O'Shea explains. "Don't stand there like a lump and recall your dog. Be fun! Be exuberant! Clap your hands, move backwards, be excited your dog is coming! Reward your dog with their favorite dog treats and/or their favorite game."

4. Use 'come' sparingly: "Your 'come' cue should have a 100% success rate. If you yell 'come' 10 times before your dog comes, your cue now has a 10% success rate. Don't use the cue unless you're confident your dog will come."

5. Attention is key: "If you can't get your dog's attention, they're probably not going to come when you call them," says O'Shea. "Get their attention FIRST."

6. Set them up for success: "Don't start training recalls at the dog park. Start in an easy, low distraction area with you pretty close by. Your dog is just learning, set them up to succeed!"

7. Make collar grabs part of come: "If you can't grab your dog, they haven't really come. Don't get roped into chasing your dog around because they dart backward every time you reach. Grab collar, then treat."

While O'Shea says that all of his above tips will help you build a better recall, he also says that the best tip he can give you is to make your recall so great you rarely have to use it.

"I can have my dogs off leash and they rarely need to be recalled because they stay super close and always keep an eye on me. I can barely get their names out, and they’re already coming back. Build a recall so great, you never need to use it."

Dog not treat motivated? I trained my Border Collie to have perfect recall - even though she had no food drive is well worth checking out if you're looking for another way to train a reliable recall.

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.