Trainer shares simple tip to build your dog's recall around distractions (no matter how busy it is!)

Woman playing fetch with her dog in the park
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recall is a skill that’s important for all dogs to learn, both for convenience and for safety – sometimes, you’ll need your dog to come back to you quickly to help keep them safe. 

Building a solid recall might sound daunting, particularly when it comes to places that are noisy or busy. Getting your dog to come back to you in the yard is one thing, but what about a busy city park? Will a pocket full of the best dog treats be enough? 

In a recent Instagram post, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has explained how you can begin to build recall around distractions, regardless of how busy it is around you. It could be a lifesaver!

“If you want your dog to come to you, you need to be fun!” Goodman begins. In the video, she’s working with one pup, Hamilton, on recall around distractions by teaching him that his parents are more fun than other people and dogs. 

This can be difficult – lots of people love dogs (not that you need us to tell you that!) – and when you have a cute puppy in a busy space you’re almost guaranteed to have people coming up to you asking to pet them and wanting to fuss over them. 

It’s understandable that your pup might get distracted when you’re out and about – after all, we can get distracted as humans, too – but all you need to do is make yourself more interesting than other things around you. As Goodman says, “Make yourself worth coming to!” It’s worth it – here are five of the most important dog commands and how to teach them, and recall is one of them. 

She says that Hamilton does well with movement, so she decided on a movement-based recall and engagement game, and explains that your tone of voice and what you do are both important. If you take a more serious tone with your pup, you’re not as desirable to come back to – as frustrated you might be if your dog isn’t co-operating, you should do your best to stay upbeat! “Acting happy, even if you’re not, will make your dog want to come to you,” Goodman says. 

She makes the exercise easy to begin with, and gradually increases the number of distractions. “After working in this big open area of the park, we made our way to where there was much more foot traffic and other tempting distractions,” she says.

While you’re working to build your pup’s recall, you might find these 15 helpful ways to get your dog to come back to you on off-leash walks useful, too. Take a look at this article in which one dog parent shares her own experience, too: I trained my border collie to have perfect recall – even though she had no food drive.

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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.