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3 Reasons Your Dog Ignores Recall (And How To Fix It)

Picture the scene: you’ve been out on a walk and it’s time to go home, so you call your dog’s name and… nothing happens. Sound familiar?

Recall is one of the most troublesome training issues for dog owners. In fact, in our Power of Play Survey, 80% of owners named recall as a training issue they struggle with.  

Good recall is essential. Being able to count on your dog coming back when you call not only makes walks more enjoyable, it makes them safer. It also allows your dog to enjoy more freedom to roam off-lead. 

dog ignoring recall as their frustrated owner throws their hands up in dismay

That’s why we’re on such a mission to help owners like you nail a bulletproof recall with our range of tried-and-tested recall toys and our free help and advice. 

So following our popular 8 Simple Steps To Teaching A Perfect Recall blog, we thought we’d take a closer look at the reasons why your dog’s ignoring recall - and, crucially, what you can do to change it... 

3 top reasons your dog's ignoring recall

1. Your dog has a strong chase/prey drive 

Maybe your dog has a perfectly OK recall... That is, right up until the moment they spot a rabbit or a squirrel! All of a sudden, they’re off like a rocket - and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Don’t worry - chasing wildlife is one of the most common reasons for dogs not to come when they are called. 

Dog being taught to channel their chase drive with dog tug toys so they don’t ignore recall anymoreHow to fix it

First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do: don’t try to eradicate your dog’s chase drive in any way. It’s an instinctual urge that’s part of who they are. Instead, use your dog's prey drive to your advantage. 

Choose a chaser tug toy like the best-selling Sheepskin Chaser or Rabbit Skin Squeaky Chaser that will tap in to (and fully satisfy) their urge to chase - and make running to you for a game of tug far more appealing than the nearest squirrel.



With a Chaser toy in your recall training toolkit, you’ll have the ultimate reward - which means awesome results. 

2. Your dog has a great sense of smell

A dog’s sense of smell is it's superpower. While us humans have around six million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have 300 million.

According to Dr. Michael T. Nappier of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a dog's sense of smell is so powerful that it can ‘detect the equivalent of a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool’.

For hounds and working breeds (including labradors, spaniels and german shepherds), the sense of smell is particularly powerful.

two dogs ignoring recall while sniffing intently

This might help explain why some dogs have poor recall on walks and prefer to run off following scent trails. 

How to fix it

If your dog loves following its nose, it means they find strong smells very rewarding. To compete with this, and make yourself more exciting than your environment (which is the key to reliable recall), you need a ‘smelly’ reward!

Our rabbit skin and sheepskin toys have a natural scent and texture that most dogs find incredibly motivating - we particularly recommend our Rabbit Skin Pocket Squeaker and Pocket Magnet for recall.

Or you could try a Food Bag Bungee, or the Power Clam which you can stuff with strong-smelling treats that your dog can happily sniff out and return for.

3. Your dog just loves making friends!

Just like humans, some dogs are more sociable than others. And those who do enjoy mixing can take it to extremes - choosing to run off and make friends with every other dog they see (all while ignoring your desperate calls for them to come back). 

Not only does this make for frustrating walks, but not being able to recall your dog around other dogs can be a real worry. You can’t always predict how other dogs will react to your dog’s friendly advances - and it might not always be pleasant. 

How to fix it

Ok, as far as your dog is concerned, sniffing the bottoms of other dogs is great fun. But here’s what’s even more fun: a game of tug with a motivational interactive tuggy from our hand-picked recall range.

Be sure to build value into your tuggy at home before using it on walks - and keep it as a high value recall reward (in other words, don’t let your dog play with it all the time). 

Ready to turbocharge your recall using play?

Follow these 8 steps to a perfect recall.

And remember to check out our full range of recall training toys here.


Read Next:

5 tips for training your high prey drive dog

Why sniffing is essential for your dog's wellbeing

5 fun ways to use The Clam

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