What Is The 123 Recall Method For Dogs?

One of the first and most essential tasks to teach your dog is the ability to respond to their name. This skill is called reliable recall.

A reliable recall is crucial for all dogs to learn as it teaches them to come to their name in any situation, especially dangerous ones.

While training a new puppy, or even a young or older dog, sometimes it feels like you aren’t making progress. There is one effective technique professional dog trainers use to teach reliable recall to dogs. The 123 Recall Method is a simple yet effective training tool to teach your dog to respond to its name.

Looking forward, we will go into each of the three steps of the 123-recall method. Keep in mind that while this is an effective method, patience is crucial to any training technique. 

Step One: Show Your Dog That You Are the Boss

The first step in the 123 Recall method is also the most crucial.

Dogs have developed from wolves and have that same pack mentality. Every pack has a leader. When training a dog, either you show them that you are the leader, or they will show you that they are the leader.

For this method to be successful, your dog must recognize you as the leader. This recognition will show your dog that they need to look to you for guidance before they make decisions.

There are several ways to show your dog who is boss:

  • Look them straight in the eye. Eye contact shows your dog that you are in charge. Holding eye contact until they look away indicates that they see you as the leader.
  • Do not give in to begging behavior. During training, only reward your dog when they have accomplished something. Not allowing their begging to influence you will show them that you are in control of the situation, not them.

Step Two: You Must Be the Pack Leader

How to Teach the 123 Recall Method

The second step is very similar to the first.

Again, being a part of a pack is engrained in your dog. It is instinct. As we touched on in step one, dog packs have leaders. That leader needs to be you.

Knowing that someone else is in charge lets your dog relax or “switch off,” as some trainers call it. Being calm and relaxed in situations that would otherwise be stressful to your dog will allow them to listen and obey because they TRUST that their leader (you) has a handle on things.

Failure to become the leader and establish that trust with your dog will result in the dog becoming its leader. The consequences of that are more difficulties in training because the dog will not be relaxed enough to listen and learn.

Step Three: Consistency Is Key!

Training any animal, including dogs, takes patience, positive reinforcement, and consistency.

In the 123-recall method, an example of consistency is using treats. Each time your dog comes to you after you call their name, give them a treat as a reward. Make it a high-value treat, to really keep their attention. 

Dogs learn by repetition, just like humans do. Being consistent with rewarding them teaches them that good behaviors equal rewards. It takes time, and staying patient and consistent is crucial. Being consistent with training will soon pay off as you see your dog reach its full potential.

Recall Games

123 Recall Method

Recall games are a great way to reinforce or practice recall training. Until your dog recalls every time, it’s best to practice recall games in a fenced yard or dog park.

Recall games can be an excellent way to strengthen the bond with your dog and help them build their confidence.

Come Game

One popular game is the Come Game – call your dog’s name and encourage them to come back to you. Reinforce this by providing a treat or toy when they reach you. Another fun game is Hide & Seek, where you hide in a room and have your dog find you.


Additionally, playing Fetch is not just for playing catch! You can also challenge your pup by using a variety of toys or hiding the toy in different places around the yard for them to sniff out.

If it’s hot outside, try putting some water into the mix so they can cool off while having a blast. These types of recall games are great for training and keeping your pup engaged in some fun activities.

Outdoor Agility Courses

If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, try some outdoor agility courses! These are a great way to get your pup used to new environments while also providing them with some mental stimulation.

To get started, look for a local agility club or trainer who can provide advice and help you and your pup get. Have fun!


The 123 Recall method is an excellent way of training your dog. It is a simple three step process that teaches your pup to respond quickly when you call their name. With a little time and patience, your dog will be coming back every time!