The other day, I saw a dog slip its collar and take off down the street. The owner called and called, but the dog paid no attention. So, for the safety of your dog, if you do not have reliable recall drilled into your dog’s head, please take a moment and read this blog from last year. There is nothing more important you can teach your dog than… come! 

From 2022: 

One of the most important things you can teach your dog is to come when called. Reliable recall can literally be lifesaving. I am currently working on this with Bailey. Since he’s deaf, he will have to learn to watch for my hand signal. But my hearing dogs all learned the command from playing the game called Ping Pong. Dog Trainer Patty Crichton taught me this a while ago, and it is an easy way to teach reliable recall. 

To teach this technique, you will need to find an enclosed area. A fenced yard, tennis court or other fenced in area with at least 50’ of space is needed. And you’ll need a helper. Each of you should have a pocket full of high value treats. 

Before you start, know what word you are going to use as your command and what hand signal you will use. Being consistent with this command is important to success. 

When you arrive at the enclosed area, stand about 20 feet apart. Get your dog’s attention, say your command and do the hand signal simultaneously. And show your treat so your dog knows there is a reward. Once your dog comes to you, reach down and grab their collar, have them sit, then give them the treat. Being able to control them by holding their collar is an important step in this training. Too many dogs learn to grab the treat and take off before they are under their owners’ control. This could be very dangerous in a high traffic situation, so make sure you have control of the dog by the collar and in a sit position before you present the reward treat. 

Once you have control of the dog, release them and have your partner do exactly the same thing. Most dogs will learn quickly that there is a treat involved and will learn to “ping pong” back and forth between you and your partner, each time sitting while under control before they get their treat reward. 

After you have repeated this 10 times successfully, each of you step backwards 10 feet and start the process over again. Repeat as many times as you can while keeping your dog’s attention, occasionally moving backward to further the distance until you reach 50 feet apart. 

To be successful with this technique, commit to the training 3-4 times a week for two weeks. At that point, most dogs are reliable at recall. If not, don’t give up. Just keep repeating until your dog gets it. If you feel your dog has mastered the ping pong recall, keep reinforcing your command/hand signal whenever possible. For example, when you take your dog friends for walk, occasional call them and signal and reward with a treat. Even if they are only turning around and sitting, you are reinforcing the command. And just like with people…. practice makes perfect. 

If you have any questions about the ping pong recall technique, do not hesitate to reach out to me at

Article Written by Diane Hansell, Re-Published with permission by Pet Pantry in Harbor Springs