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5 Creative Games to Reward Your Dog's Recall

5 Creative Games to Reward Your Dog's Recall

Variety is the spice of life, right? Too much of the same thing can get old after a while. (Well maybe not if we are talking about Pizza, but everything else!) Our dogs think the same thing. When it comes to training dogs, very few rewards need to be as fun and exciting as your dog's reward for their recall. We are often calling them away from something they want to do. Whether that’s going to make a friend, chasing a chipmunk, swimming in a swamp, or rolling in something very stinky, if we want them to listen to their recall, we have to make it worth their while. Variety in your rewards can be so much more than simply trying a new bag of treats. Not only will adding variety to your recall practice be fun and enticing for your dog, but it will break the monotony and add a little extra spice to your recall practice for you as well!

1. Hide & Seek

Yes, the game we all played as kids can be just as fun for our dogs. When your dog gets a little bit ahead of you, off leash or on a long line if they aren’t quite ready for that yet, hop off the trail and hide behind a tree or boulder. If your dog is new to this don’t make it too hard, we don’t want them getting bored or frustrated and wandering off. Once you have hidden, call your dog to you. They will have a blast searching for you and when they do find you they will be so happy you might even get a blast of the zoomies. You can practice with this game inside too! If you have a partner to train with, the two of you can take turns hiding and calling your dog back and forth. If you are training by yourself and want to try this, that works great too! Just work on your dog’s ‘Wait’ cue until they can handle the distance!

Our dogs are born hunters and foragers. We can use that to our advantage when working on recall.

2. Go Sniff!

Our dogs are born hunters and foragers. We can use that to our advantage when working on recall. Start by calling your dog, “Piper, Come!” When they get to you, celebrate by tossing a scatter of treats into the grass, leaves, logs, or snow nearby. As your dog gets better at sniffing for and finding the treats you can increase the area in which you scatter treats or them. Just remember, if you use this method, be sure that you have enough time to allow your dog to find everything.

3. The Big Release

Manzo’s favorite! The idea is to get them amped so they can let out a big burst of excited energy. Start by calling your dog to come. When they get to you, reward them with treats as usual but then take hold of their harness. Say something like, “Are you ready, wait,” then shout ‘Okay go!” while you release them. You can even run with them as they take off. This will teach them that listening to their recall can lead to even more freedom for them. That way they won’t associate being called back with the end of fun.

4. Run Away!

This one is for our Monty Python fans. Call your dog to come, and when they look over at you, shout “Run away!” and run in the other direction. More likely than not, this will trigger them to come running after you. Since none of us are faster than our dogs, they will catch up, and when they do you can engage them in a little bit of play before showering them with praise and treats!

Call your dog to come, and when they look over at you, shout “Run away!” and run in the other direction.

5. Prey Dummy Pouch

One for our more driven dogs! The prey dummy pouch is a toy that holds treats and can either be ripped open by your dog or has a zipper that you can open for them. The idea is to give them something that simulates prey but is safe to chase and interact with. Practice at first by having them watch you fill the pouch with treats before tossing it for them to chase. Let them run around with it, play tug, or parade a little before opening it up for them. Once they know their toy well, allow them to get distracted while you fill it up without them seeing. Call them to you, show them the dummy pouch, and toss it for them to chase! Don’t have a dummy pouch? You can achieve a similar effect by tossing a larger reward or a scatter of treats for them to chase. Click here for the Dummy pouch we use with Manzo and Piper.

6. Bonus Tip!

Focus on your dog’s foundations! I know this one goes without saying but it is never a bad idea to revisit to basics to see bigger results and greater progress. If your dog needs a reset or a refresher or, you just want a little guidance on their training then sign up now for The Distracted Dog. In this free training course you’ll learn 3 skills you can teach your dog to redirect them and regain their focus. Enroll for free by clicking here.

So next time you are out training with your dog on their recall try these tips to add variety to your dog's reward. You can try them separately or combine them! Now these reward styles aren’t appropriate for every circumstance but they can go a long way to making your dog’s recall more reliable and much more fun. Let us know which one your dog liked the most!

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