The RECALL GAME: Teaching your pup to come when called



This is my version of this popular game to teach puppies to come when called.

*COPYRIGHT 2005/2008 Redyre Rottweilers* all rights reserved Free for use or copy by anyone as long as author info remains intact

The Recall Game

Having a dog who will reliably come when called is one of the best things in life. This means FREEDOM for your dog, and can also save her life in some situations. Here is how to teach your dog to RUN to you each time you call it.

1) NEVER call your dog unless you are CERTAIN you can enforce the command. Each time you call your dog and he does not immediately come to you to receive a food reward, you take a step backwards in his learning to come when you call. It is important not to make mistakes when teaching the recall. DO NOT CALL YOUR DOG if there is ANY chance you cannot enforce the command. EVER.

2) NEVER call your dog to you for anything unpleasant. If you need to interrupt a play session, or you are going to trim nails, or if you are about to do anything to your dog that he does not enjoy, GO GET THE DOG. Do not call him to you.

3) REWARD every single recall. EVERY SINGLE ONE. This means keeping treats in your pockets at all times. Rewards can also include smiles, praise, a game of tug, or fetch with a favorite toy.

4) Smiles are required equipment when calling your dog. NEVER EVER call your dog in anything but a praise tone of voice. Correction will NEVER help a recall. Your dog must WANT to come when you call.

To play the game you need at least 2 people, and several is great. Each person is given a handful of very small soft treats. I prefer tiny pieces of hotdogs or string cheese. Pieces should be VERY small, even for a larger dog or puppy. I slice a hotdog in half and cut the pieces the size of a nickle. Once people have their treats, they should take a seat around the room with as much room between them as the room will allow.

One person takes the puppy or dog and points him towards the person who is going to begin the game. This person may do anything to get the puppy to come towards him except say the word COME. Clap hands, smile, laugh, show the treat, call PUPPPY PUPPPPY PUPPPPY, or the dog's name. When it is CLEAR that the pup is committed to going to the person, and ONLY THEN, say the pup's name, and come. For example, Bailey, COME! It does not matter if the puppy is almost to you, as long as the pup hears his name and the word COME while he is going TOWARDS the person calling.

Hold the hand with the food right up next to your body so that the puppy has to come all the way up to you and touch you to get the treat. Do not feed the treat until you are holding the puppy's collar. This prevents the "snatch and run" game. Praise and pet the puppy cheerfully while he is getting his treat. Once the pup has had his little tiny treat, it's time to point him towards another person who does the same thing.

It is extremely important that the participants understand they are NOT to say the word COME unless the puppy is already doing just that.

Play as long as the pup is interested. Main rules, Do not say COME unless the puppy IS coming, hold the treat up CLOSE to your body, and you must be holding the collar to feed the treat.

This simple game helps to build a reliable recall, and it is fun for you and your pup. Your pup will quickly learn that his name and the word come means TREAT. Each time you call the pup and reward him for coming quickly to you, you build a more ingrained and reliable response. If you are consistent and train this game at least 2 to 3 times per week, you will have a dog who will ALWAYS come when you call it. Most owners list this as a top priority for their dogs. Here is a fun and simple way to attain this goal.

Practice often! Your pup will love this game, and so will your friends.
Apr 19, 2006
This game is in my book as well and is often called puppy ping pong in other training books. :)
The collar hold/grab part is very important and is often left out...glad that you included it Red.
Last edited:


New Member
Jan 25, 2010
Great article, great tips, thanks Red! The second tips is new for me but so true. Now I know why my Snowy doesn't always come when I call him. So, it's natural huh? Because sometimes I feel upset with the husky not coming when I call him.

Members online

No members online now.