How to improve your dog’s recall.
We have written on this subject before for Holidays4Dogs, but getting your dog to come back reliably can, for many, remain an illusive task. There are often improvements that can be made in most cases and its one of those things that needs reinforcing throughout your dog’s life.
Recall training can sometimes be a bit of a challenge and it is something that many dog owners find they struggle with the most. It can be hard to distract some dogs (and puppies!) from other more exciting things going on and should you scold your dog for not coming back – well, then he’s less likely to come running when you call the next time!
To make sure your dog has a reliable recall so that you can be reasonably sure he will come bounding back to you when you ask him to, you need to consistently make sure that you have good and exciting things to offer!
Set your dog up for success! After being indoors for perhaps several hours, your dog is going to be raring to go and no doubt very excited at the prospect of a walk in the great outdoors. But if he has been bored and unoccupied for the period beforehand, he is more likely to be distracted by other things going on and more inclined to race off in search of fun and games the minute you let him off the lead – your cries falling on deaf ears as Fido scampers off into the distance! If you play and engage with your dog throughout the day the more chance there is of him focusing on you once you leave the house.
Choose high value rewards. You need to get your dog to understand that coming back to you equals a high value reward – perhaps a tasty chicken treat or a game with a ball, or tuggy. Some dogs will be more motivated than others to come back when they are called. Hounds, for instance, can be challenging when it comes to recall, so it is really important they are rewarded with something that they really want. Try to change the reward too, so that they don’t get bored or choose something better over that same old treat!
Don’t expect to have a 100% good recall overnight. Teaching your dog to be reliable off lead won’t happen instantly and you may not ever get to the 100% point. Make sure you start recall training over short distances and gradually introduce distractions. If your dog won’t come back to you in the house or garden, you will have little chance when it comes to an open field – and probably zero chance if there are other dogs or other distractions going on!
Never, ever, punish your dog, no matter how long he takes to come back to you. Period. It’s your fault, not his.
Know when to put your dog on the lead. Being able to walk with your dog off the lead is great – but it’s important to be mindful of your dog’s own character and limits – don’t forget you may not ever feel confident that your dog will come back 100% of the time – so there has to be another way to keep your dog safe, while being a responsible owner. Even the best trained dog could, in a split second, decide to take off after another dog (or squirrel!) and if that happens to be across a road – the consequences could be dire. Whilst your dog might be friendly; other dogs may not be and you should certainly always be ready, (and able) to get your dog back on the lead; especially if you see other dog walkers with their dog on the lead coming towards you.
Recall training can take a lot of patience and consistency, but with the right approach that works for your dog – it makes for a better relationship and a stronger bond between you and your four legged pal.