Good recall is possibly the most important training you can give your dog. Making sure your dog always comes back to you when off the leash keeps them safe from harm and saves you a ton of stress. Getting them back when there are distractions such as other dogs, flying tennis balls and cheeky squirrels is impossible without good recall skills.
But, as every dog owner knows, it’s easier said than done. At any age, training can be tough, long and requires attention and dedication, but it’s hugely rewarding once it all comes together. To help, we’ve listed the top tricks you can use to help with recall training.
Start off slow and steady…
With any kind of training, it's important to pace yourself, and your dog, to make sure you’re doing things thoroughly. Start recall training in an area that the dog trusts and knows, such as your yard or house. That way, if your dog decides to act like a rebellious teenager and not listen, at least they can’t get far.
Always reward your dog
Dogs need a tasty incentive to listen and learn. Having mouthwatering treats to hand will give you more control over their recall training. Make sure they also associate recall with lots of praise so that the treats can gradually be phased out.
Continue to stay positive throughout
Keep a happy and light tone to prevent your dog from getting stressed out during the process, even when it’s not going well. They’re a lot less likely to come to a frustrated and angry. It’s also important to show positive body language, so embracing them at their level with open arms when they come back to you can really help.
Introduce distractions to really test their skills
The acid test of your dog’s recall skills is whether they ignore distractions like other dogs and picnic tables, so gradually introduce them into your training. Definitely start off slow and steady, as big distractions at an early stage may set them back.
Turn it into a game
Once your dog is more familiar with recall, try playing games like hide and seek to test their abilities. For example, you could run behind a tree and call their name to see how long it takes them to find you. Try not to venture too far away from your pup, though, as this could cause unnecessary stress.
Don’t underestimate your dog
Dogs are incredibly clever, so if you’re only doing recall when it’s time to leave a place (such as a dog park) then they may not come to you straight away as they know it’s the end of their play time. Continue doing recall throughout their walks so they don’t associate it with the end of their fun!
Chasing is not the answer
Chasing your dog may seem like the logical thing to do if they don’t come to you after the first few attempts at recalling them, but they could interpret this as a game and run even further away from you. Instead, try to get them to chase after you to see if they can catch up and then follow this with a reward. This way, if your dog is being stubborn, then running away from them should make them catch up with you.