Racing Towards a Reliable Recall

by Kirsty Lynas // October 2017

Racing Towards a Reliable Recall

Physical exercise is important for any dog and going off lead plays a big part in this. Off lead exercise also allows our dogs to perform many of their natural behaviours. From sniffing and investigating to appropriate playtime with other dogs, all of this is important for our pooches to have a fulfilling life. Therefore having a strong, reliable recall is a vital skill for any dog and if done correctly it is really easy to teach and is also lots of fun!

Follow these steps for the perfect recall!

  1. Start teaching them to focus on you by saying their name, and rewarding them with a treat or fuss if they look at you. 
  2. Once they are looking at you every time you say their name (this shouldn’t take too long), move further away and call from there, if they move towards you give them a treat to show them they are doing what you want! Only call for them once, if they do not respond get a bit closer and try and gain their attention by tapping your legs or making a squeaky noise. When your dog turns to look and you and begins to approach be really exciting and give lots of encouragement and when they get to you ensure that you have a treat on hand to reward them or engage them in some play or by fussing them if that's what they prefer. 
  3. Next you can try the same thing but move to another room and call them from there. Make this lots of fun, calling enthusiastically and as high pitched as possible. If they come over to you then reward them with a treat or fuss. If they don't come to you just go back a step and go back into the same room as them and practice Step 2 for a little longer. Whatever you do, don't tell your dog off - they are still learning what you want from them! 
  4. Next try practicing out in the garden, there are a lot more distractions out there so go back to Step 1 and work through the stages again, your dog should progress through the stages a little quicker as he has a better idea of what you want from him, but if not don't worry - you probably just have a very interesting garden!
  5. Now try mixing the two together, calling him in from the garden and calling him out from the house!
  6. Once you are confident your dog is coming back to you in the home environment it's time to practice in the big wide world! Make sure you have a long line to hand (this is an extra long training lead that gives your dog the freedom to explore and act naturally but gives you the security of knowing they can’t run off completely..!) Start off somewhere really quiet (free from other dogs, squirrels, picnics etc!) and build up to practicing in more interesting / exciting areas. You may find that using an extra special reward in the big wide world makes all the difference. 
  7. When your dog has a solid recall in exciting areas on the long line, try going back to a quiet area and practicing off-lead! Repeat the same steps and remember to go back a step if your dog is struggling. You should still be keeping the sessions short and make yourself as fun and interesting as possible!

Things to remember:

  • It's important to remember to keep training short, we want them to find it fun and not get bored! Always make sure you end on a high, so if they are struggling - go back to the step they are very confident on - call his name and give him a treat when he responds, and end the session. 
  •  It is important to remember that no matter how long it takes for them to come back to you ALWAYS reward them for doing so. Never tell a dog off when they come back, even if it has taken you half an hour. Shouting at them or telling them off will only encourage them to stay away. Would you come back if you were just going to get shouted at?
  • Not all dogs are food motivated, if your dog would rather play with you than get a treat then make that the reward. Try calling and then engage them in a game of tug as the reward. As well as rewarding your dog, this is also reinforcing the bond between the two of you and making you lots of fun which means they will want to come back again and again!
  • Recall should be practiced every time your dog goes off lead and remember, if you only ever call your dog back to put them on the lead to take them home, they will soon realise that you equal the end of fun time! So calling them back throughout your walk and then letting them go off again is a good routine to get in to.

If you want to learn more, why not sign up to one of our 5 week courses. To find out more call 01162 836458 or email

So now it’s time to start practicing! We would love to see your training videos and pictures so feel free to share on our Instagram (@dogschool_leicestershire) and Twitter (@ dogschool_leic) pages!