How frustrated do you get when your dog or puppy does not come when called?
Sometimes we shout, sometimes we full out scream ... I bet some of you even think your dog has selective hearing at times!
The truth of the matter is, most dogs only come when it's convenient for them, like when it' dinner time 😛
It's at those times when you need your dog to come the most, those times when you're running late or they are running circles around you that you are at your weakest, screaming the loudest and nothing is working.
A recall is often the most allusive to dog owners, and yet it is also one of the simplest. All you need is a little help, a little guidance and your dog will have a great recall.
I'm going to break it down as simple as possible for you ... Seriously, this could change your life!
So take the next few minutes, read and re-read this list and put it into practice with your dog.
Creating the ULTIMATE RECALL
1. Yummy Treats
It's true, bribery isn't my first choice when training but because of the importance of a spot on recall in your dog, using some incredibly delicious treats is a must!
Think of this treat as payment for a quick and accurate job done.
Using treats to train your dog is going to help by getting your dog's time down on how fast they respond to your recall word.
When you ask your dog to stop doing something that is totally awesome to them, like chasing a squirrel or playing with a friend, you are going to need more than a pat on the head and a "Good Dog".
Later in the steps, we will start to take away the treats but for now use one every time you ask your dog to come to you.
It is crucial to always use a treat in the beginning because if you take the treat away too quickly, before they have the association down in their minds, then you will have to start all over.
2. Stay In Control
Ok, so since I only advocate positive methods training ... what exactly could I mean by "stay in control"?
Well, let me ask you a question that I get asked more often than any other when talking about recall...
"What do I do when my dog is running away and not responding to anything I say?"
Here's the answer: There's not much of anything you can do!
Which is why you need to keep your dog on leash or long line while training the recall.
I strongly recommend that you use a harness on your dog for all leash and line training, including regular walks. If you clip a leash or line to a collar around your dogs neck it can cause some serious damages.
This will be a game changer for you teaching recall to your dog.
3. Set Your Dog Up For Success
This may be the most important concept of all ... and at the same time the most often missed when training at home (and with lots of those high priced dog trainers too).
Let me give you a scenario in which this success concept is most often missed, and yet will be the key in your training success.
You've just completed a good 15 minute training session with your dog on a line practicing recall. They've done so well and you're excited to see the progress!
Now you let your dog off the line and they got excited, run around smelling things maybe chase a butterfly or squirrel.
Many dog owners would panic at this point... wanting to keep up the progress and have the dog back on the line, listening to you and coming when called.
The chance of them coming to you right now is about zero! So why would you call your dog now?
Were they doing anything wrong?
Was your dog going to run away and never come back?
Was your dog in danger?
Is the reason you let your dog off leash to begin with to give them a break, let them run, sniff and play?
Was your dog just going to have a quick playtime and come back to you?
In this case, you are much better off letting your dog run, play and sniff around, then when they turn to come back to you ... call them ... and reward them when they do come over to you with praise and a treat. This will again reinforce the recall in your dog.
This is the concept of setting your dog up for success! If your dog is hyper-focused on something other than you, give them some time. You can even come a little closer to your dog to make sure you are their next focal point.
Remember: A good trainer never asks a dog to do something when they aren't in a condition to respond appropriately!
4. Be Consistent!
Let me ask you a question - How many different names, nicknames, voices do you use to call your dog?
Be honest! Most people have a myriad of different cute names and nicknames for their dogs, not to mention different inflections for different occasions -when you are giving them a tasty treat, when you want them to come to you, when you are frustrated or even upset with them.
Using all these different word and different tones can be confusing to your dog. When training, especially a command as important as the recall, it is vital that you use one single command and the same tone of voice when giving it.
With recall, this word or phrase should basically mean "Come here so I can put food in your mouth and then you can go play again."
I like to simply use the word "Come" or "(Insert Dog's Name Here), Come."
It can be difficult to remain calm and stay consistent with just one word or phrase, but this will make or break your dog's ability to learn.
The other thing that's hard to do ... remaining calm when it has taken your dog a while to finally respond to you. BUT YOU MUST!
Imagine your friend has call you over to a table to come see them and you are in the middle of a conversation with someone else. You wait for the person your speaking with to finish and excuse yourself (all the while your friend keeps calling you). When you finally get to the table your friend goes crazy yelling at you for taking so long! You would think twice about ever coming over the next time, wouldn't you?
When your dog does finally come over to you, calmly attach their leash to their harness and ignore them. Do NOT scold them, this will undo any training you have already done!
5. The (GIANT) Power Of Random Rewards
I've heard this explained as something similar to people playing the lottery ... we don't play to win a few bucks here and there... no ...
We play the lottery to win some serious money. And we never know what we will win or when we will win it, so we keep playing.
This is what treat rewards should be like for your dog.
Once your dog has their recall down at least 90-95% with getting a treat every time, you can then start randomizing the treat rewards. And it's the power of this random reward system that will keep your dog's recall on point.
Don't just randomize IF they get a treat, but also the type of treats they get. If you continue to give them the same old biscuits they will become too accustomed and may get bored. Give them something really yummy, maybe a small piece of bacon or a piece of havarti cheese!
The key here is keeping your dog guessing!
6. Increase The Motivation
What do I mean by increasing your dog's motivation? And how do you go about doing it?
Well, we are using treats to help push along this recall training ... and a hungry dog will be very interested in whatever they have to do to get that treat, while a dog who is full will easily loose interest.
Try taking your dog for a walk before you begin a training session, this way your dog will be much more motivated to get that treat from you!
This way your dog gets the extra exercise to work off the extra calories from the treats too!
7. Win Their Mind Before You Train Commands
When you win your dog's mind, you are learning to speak "dog."
Essentially, you are speaking to your dog in a way (using behaviors) that actually get your dog to look at you as the decision maker and it makes them WANT to listen to you.
<- This is me and my dog, Kim. Since the day we brought her home, she has been a delight to have around the house.
But she was used to guarding the foster home she lived in. It didn't take long to reteach Kim that the humans are the protectors. She still makes an amazing look out 🙂
You too can learn to speak dog and have your dog wanting to listen to you. Click the button below to find out how.