Teaching a reliable Recall

Recall is an important tool in your training arsenal. And as with most training, its the simple things that can make a difference. There are ways to reinforce and build a strong recall, and things you can do in your yard or even in your house to make that happen. I would like to provide you with some tricks to help make your dogs recall solid and reliable.

* Your dog must have a very good stay to begin this recall work, both sit and down stay on leash. Always begin work in a sterile environment, just you and your dog with no distractions. Have your dog on leash in sit/stay position. Step in front of the dog, going to the end of a 6′ lead, and simply call the dog to you. “Come Venus!” Using your hand to motion as well as a slight jiggle of the leash to incorporate both verbal and physical commands. When the dog gets to you, make sure they do NOT pass by you, get them to sit directly in front of you. This can be done from both sit and down positions, but I like to start with the sit as it is easier to work from. I also prefer to have treats to offer as incentive and you can help “guide” them into you by keeping the treat directly in front of you. Make sure they do not receive the treat until they have successfully returned AND sat down in front of you.  Sitting at the end of the recall is the completion of the command so it is crucial you implement that final step.

* Recall work can be taught at any given time throughout your day. One key piece of advice is to make sure not every time you call the dog it is associated with something unpleasant for the dog or you will create a scenario where they do not wish to comply. Example, the dog is out playing in the yard, you need to go to work. Every morning it is the same routine, you call and call but the dog keeps running from you. You offer treats, it works for a little while but they eventually grow wise to that trick as well. You created the problem without even knowing you were. To stop this particular situation from even developing, it is important you start from the very beginning so they are taught that something positive is associated with them answering your calls. Call them, give them loves, sometimes a treat when they come, then send them on their way to play again. This will keep them guessing and not predict what action they will receive. This works both in the house and in the yard. Keep in mind the end game is to make sure your dog comes to you each time you call it, and if it believes it will receive a reward when it does that makes it more likely to answer that call.

Consistency is important when it comes to any kind of training, and it is the little things that can create a big problem or help in creating a well-trained, well-behaved dog!


Rebecca Hawk