Handy Tips to Improve your Dog’s Recall
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
1. Use One Command for Recall & be Consistent with that Command
Choose the word(s), make it short i.e “come here” and always praise when using that command. Even if it’s used at home and around the house. Always praise your dog when using the word, so they associate it with something nice. Even if your dog doesn’t return immediately or come to you, when they do eventually come back praise them. Punishing them for eventually coming back, will make them associate coming back with doing something wrong. Everytime they come back reward with a treat or something nice, your dog may prefer dog toys rather than be motivated by food etc! The main thing to remember is reward them with a decent treat so they want to come back to you and to make it worth their while!
2. Start with small Distances & practice at home & in the Garden
Start with gradual steps and be patient it can sometimes take longer for some breeds of dogs than others.
Pick a safe secure area at first for example at home and when your dog comes back reliably at home increase the distance and move to a different place for example a secure, safe field. Increase the distance. Use a long lead at first if your dog is unreliable. If your dog is not obeying at a certain distance go back to small distances and persevere.
3. Switch the Rewards to make them more Interesting.
Dogs love rewards and it makes recall much easier to teach. Positive reinforcement communicates clearly that your dog has done exactly what you wanted of them. They want to please you and make you happy.
Use play as motivation and a short game of ball or tug games with a toy. If there are two of you you can practice calling your dog back to one or the other of you. Change the food treats to make them more interesting. Use a Clicker with the Recall command or a Whistle to reinforce the command and also if there is a lot of noise around a whistle will be more affective.
4. Reward your Dog as they come back to you.
Your dog is less likely to be distracted if you encourage them as they are coming back, reinforcing they are doing the right thing. Using a Whistle or a Clicker gives that message very clearly especially from a distance. Then when they are in front of you give them lots of praise, they are less likely to get distracted along the way. Give a positive stance like facing your dog, your hand in the air beckoning your dog.
5. Practice releasing your dog again after Recall.
If your dog was enjoying something prior to the Recall, you are rewarding your dog by then giving a command that your dog is free again to return to whatever it was enjoying. So your dog recognises it’s worth coming back, because they get the reward of being released if they have been good again. Think of a command for release such as “move on” “walk on” or whatever you choose.
6. Not setting your Dog up to fail.
Make sure your dog understands your Recall command at home/garden before moving to other outdoor spaces. Otherwise moving with Training too quickly into potentially more stimulating and distracting environments is going to set them up to fail. Take it gradually and practice in different situations. If your dog fails to listen to you in these other locations go and retrieve them and put them back on their lead removing them from the distraction. If you get angry with them it will be stressful for your dog and not a good Training environment.
7. Overuse of Recall Command will reduce effectiveness.
Use your chosen Recall Command once or twice to call your dog over. If you find yourself repeating it over and over with your dog ignoring you it will lesson the effect of the Command. They’ll start to ignore it in the future and associate it with not listening. Stop the Training for now as your dog is either too distracted with something, bored with Training (short regular periods are best). Remember its better taking your time with the Training. Start again another day and use the Recall word when your dog is more receptive.
8. Friends and Family can Help.
Its important to involve all your family who are involved with your dog to keep the consistency of the Recall Training so you are all working from the same hymn sheet. Your dog wants to be reliable with Recall with every family member otherwise they will only listen to one person. If your out on a walk with friend(s) practice Recall with other distractions. Your friend or friends can be used as a distraction whilst keeping the situation under control.
Remember: Punishing your dog when they eventually come back to you (if for example it wasn’t straightaway & in your timescale) will make them stressed and fearful resulting in them not wanting to come back to you. Stress can affect further Training and associate the Recall Command with something negative. Keep Training short and sweet as Dogs have short attention spans and will become bored. 15 minute Training Sessions at a time is good. End on a High Note!