Advice on different methods of recall to try with dogs and puppies in training
Recall. One of the best tricks in the book. Is there any better feeling than your dog hearing their name and sprinting back to you, ears flopping about the place and a big doggo grin across their face?
As well as being a great bonding experience - and looking like a top dog in the play park - recall is an essential and important skill that keeps your dog safe, secure, and responsive. So how do you ace it? Here are 5 recall methods you can try today!
1. Start With Baby Steps
Recall is hard. Dogs love the outside world, and sometimes they really just love to chase squirrels too. So a good recall doesn’t happen overnight!
Work in small steps and short distances, and even start on a lead. Build up to the bigger stuff with time.
Eventually, you’ll be able to add in distractions too, like practicing outside where you’ll be around other people or dogs. If you need to take a few steps back, that’s ok. Be patient and keep building on your training!
2. Find the magic word
Great recall is all about consistency. So finding the magic word that works for you is key. Whether it’s your pooch’s name, the command “Come”, or even a whistle - make sure it’s the same every time.
And this word has to be magic - literally. You want your dog to associate this with super positive things. Every time your pup comes back, let them know that they made the best choice possible by rewarding them with a treat, a toy or some serious fuss.
If a command becomes a bit tainted or confusing, you can always start again with a new one!
3. Release As A Booster Reward
We all love fun. And dogs do too. So one of the best things to remember about recall is to make it so exciting you just might pee!
One really cool way to do this is to make the release a reward. For example, if your dog was in the middle of doing something fun when he chose to come to you (what a good boy!) you can allow him to return to that fun thing. Something like “Ok” works well to release your pooch.
As well as a treat for the great behavior, chances are that if you’re somewhere exciting, being allowed to return to rooting around will be a double reward too. Your dog knows for sure that good things come to them if they listen up.
4. Reward The Return
One way to get even better recall is to excite your dog before they’ve even reached you. This can be a super useful method to avoid your dog getting distracted along the way! Especially when working with distractions or at long distances.
Backing away can work really well with puppies, and adult dogs too. It ignites their instinct for chase and play, making the recall uber exciting. It’s always great to start some verbal praise going here too, to double the motivation. Puppies enjoy high-pitched or interesting noises, so don’t be afraid to be a little wacky!
Or if you are using a clicker for your training, you can start to click as your dog heads for you, to let them know how pleased you are with their listening skills.
5. Know When To Leash
The day has arrived. Your recall is robust and impressive. You are a finely tuned team. Whilst it’s tempting to throw the leash out the window, remember that the best recall trainers know when to not rely on recall!
No matter how well your dog listens, there are certain situations that just need that extra security a leash provides. Spooked by a motorcycle on a busy road, approaching what looks like an unfamiliar reactive doggo, or if there are a number of young children around who could be afraid. There’s even a few leash laws you might need to adhere to!
With great power comes great responsibility - so don’t be too much of a renegade with your newfound recall powers. Know when it’s appropriate to keep your dog close by, happy in the knowledge they’ll be running free again soon.
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