woman practicing dog recall with poodle outdoors
(Photo Credit: miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images)

How to Improve Dog Recall


My dog follows the “come” command pretty well, but when they see a squirrel, I could have a steak in my hands and they’d ignore me. Any recommendations on how to improve dog recall?


When it comes to ensuring your dog’s safety and fostering a strong bond, a reliable recall is of paramount importance. A solid recall means that your dog responds promptly and consistently when called, regardless of the distractions around them. Fortunately, there are several concrete strategies you can employ to enhance your dog’s recall.

Strategies to improve dog recall

First, make sure you are setting your dog up for success. That means preventing squirrel chasing when possible. Otherwise, you’re making your job a lot harder.

Secondly, work on some foundation behaviors, like name recognition or “name game.” The name game is simply rewarding your dog when they look at you after you say their name. This is the first step in developing a great recall.

Next, I’d recommend practicing this around things that move (but not squirrels just yet). Can you roll a ball across the floor or toss an object and still get your dog to look at you? These are the “muscles” that your dog needs to develop.

More tips to improve recall

Consistency is the cornerstone of successful recall training. Always use the same recall command and maintain a consistent tone of voice. This helps your dog associate the command with the action you’re requesting. Avoid using the recall command for negative situations, such as bath time or reprimanding your dog. This prevents confusion and maintains a positive association with the command.

Incorporate high-value rewards to reinforce your dog’s excellent recall behavior. These rewards could include your dog’s favorite treats, toys, or the opportunity to engage in an enjoyable activity like playtime at the park. Using rewards that your dog highly values increases their motivation to respond promptly to the recall command, even when competing against enticing distractions.

With dedication and consistent effort, you’ll be well on your way to having a furry friend who comes running joyfully whenever you call — or who pays attention to you (and your steak) even when there is a squirrel in view!


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