When you recall your dog what do you get? A dog that comes the first time you ask? Many dogs struggle with different aspects of obtaining a reliable recall. Dogs often recall slowly to their owners, stopping to sniff along the way or only come half way. More often than not owners are actually training their dogs to have poor recalls. Here are some rules to follow when training the recall so that you don’t create behavior issues in your dog.
Rules for Recall
1. Define what “Come” means to you and your dog: In order for your dog to have a strong recall he needs to have clear expectations. Does come mean walk over and stand in your general area? Does it mean come and sit in front of you? I like to teach a dog to come so that they are right in front of me facing me. Like in the photo. That allows me to easily grab my dog’s collar if it is needed.
2. Don’t say “Come” unless you can make it happen: Think of the world from your dog’s point of view. There are so many rewarding smells and actives. Dogs are opportunistic which means that they choose the option that holds the most benefits to them. If you call your dog and they have the choice not to come they will be rewarding themselves for making the wrong choice. Therefore they are actually practicing and getting better at not coming when called.
3. Only say it once: If it doesn’t happen change something that will make it happen, such as increasing reward, pulling them towards you or by making it less rewarding not to come. Repeating the cue, makes it more likely that your dog will choose to ignore you in the future.
4. Don’t use “come” to end the party: If your dog is at the dog park, having a great time barking at the back fence or chasing a squirrel and your dog recalls to you. Reward him and allow him to go back and play otherwise your dog will start to avoid recalling for fear that you will make the fun stop if they comply.
5. Move away from your dog: Stop being so darn boring. If you ask your dog to come jog backwards or run away from your dog. This will prevent your dog from practicing a slow recall. It will build a much faster recall.
6. Practice for perfection: Whatever you get during practice you are going to loose some of that precision when distractions are added. If you allow your dog to stop 1-2 feet away from you it will turn into 3-5 feet when you actually need it, so be picky about what you accept.
7. Keep the leash on: After you have gotten a strong recall on-leash don’t go right to off-leash. Instead go to a long line leash of 10-15 feet. Once you don’t need the backup of the long line progress to a longer line before going strait to off-leash. This goes back to rule 2.
For other ideas on teaching recalls read this, Recall Games