Want your dog to come back every time you call them? Trainer shares three fun recall games you have to try

Dog licking woman's face as they sit together on rocky beach
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For many pet parents, training their dog to have a reliable recall is one of the things they dread the most. And it's not hard to understand why!

Even when you're armed with a bag of the best dog treats and you invest a ton of time, patience and energy into recall training, it's possible that your pup may struggle to get the hang of things. 

There could be many reasons why your dog's recall isn't reliable, but often the main culprit is distractions in their environment. For many pups, what's going on around them is simply far more interesting than coming back to their owner. 

Thankfully, there's a way you can make your dog pay attention to you and come back when you call them — and it all comes down to these three fun games that expert trainer Amelia Steele shared in a recent Instagram post.  

1. Treat scatter: "Scatter some treats on the ground and then run away from your dog," says Steele. "As you're running away, call their recall cue and wait for them to catch up. When they do, simply mark yes and scatter another handful of treats and repeat."

2. The middle: "Throw a treat behind you and lure your dog to the middle position. Reward them a couple of times while they are holding this position in the middle and then throw a treat forwards to release them," Steele explains. "Repeat this to reinforce coming back to middle."

3. Touch: "Use touch as a recall cue," advises Steele. "I like to move around a lot to keep this really reinforcing but you can also do it from a stationary position where you reward your dog for touching and then throw a treat out and have them repeat this exercise."

Not only is playing games great for strengthening the bond you share with your dog and improving their recall, it's also one of our top tips to help keep dog walks fun

It's easy for both you and your pup to become bored when you're doing the same sorts of things each day, so by adding a few fun recall games into your routine, you can help make those daily strolls more interesting for you both. 

And if you find your dog is struggling to master the art of the perfect recall (trust us, you're far from alone!) we highly recommend reaching out to a professional trainer for some 1:1 support.

Here's how to spot dog trainer red flags so that you can ensure you're working with an experienced trainer who uses positive training methods. 

Pupford Beef Liver Training Freeze-Dried Dog Treats 
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Pupford Beef Liver Training Freeze-Dried Dog Treats 
$16.89 from Chewy
We gave these to our tester Isaiah for his dog Hayes to try. He reports back that they're his new favorite treat and are a suitable size for training. "He could and would eat the whole bag if allowed!"

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.