A reliable recall is one of the most important behaviors that every dog should have. What is a reliable recall? It is when your dog consistently stops what they are doing and immediately comes to you when called.
“Come” is one of the most important behaviors that all dogs should learn. It is also one of the hardest commands to get reliably. Yet when done in a way fun and rewarding cultivates a reliable recall. Training a reliable recall can be a wonderful bonding and training exercise for you and your pup.
Importance of an Effective Recall
Your dog’s safety greatly depends on his response to a recall. When your pup’s too close to something that is potentially dangerous such as getting ready to run in front of a car or chasing after another animal a steadfast recall can be a lifesaver. A reliable recall is not just for your dog’s safety, it is will also save you a lot of aggravation. Who does not want their dog to come when called regardless of what is going on?
A reliable recall will give you peace of mind every time you let your dog play in a park, knowing that he’ll return to you when necessary. It also allows you to experience the simple joy of a relaxed, off-leash walk. A dog that comes every time he’s called has more opportunities for socialization without you having to worry too much about him getting into trouble.
When to Start Teaching Recall
Your dog’s training should begin the moment he arrives in your home. It's essential to start teaching recall as soon as you can, since building a reliable response can take months of constant training. By that time, your adorable puppy will have grown a lot bigger and more confident, and it can be harder to get him to focus on you as he happily explores the world.
The good news is that the techniques used to train a reliable recall are the same no matter how old your dog may be.
Getting a Reliable Recall
Basically, you want your dog to learn that coming back to you is the best thing that can happen to him, better than all the distractions in his surroundings.
For a fast, reliable recall, Hamilton dog training specialist, Kim Miller, recommends your dog should only associate the word “come” with good things. This means rewarding him every time he comes back to you— with tasty treats, a lively game of tug of war, or lavish praise. Now that we’ve got that down, it’s time to introduce structure to your recall training.
1. Charge up the “Come” Cue
Make sure there are no distractions
Always use a happy voice
With your dog a short distance from you, call his name and say the word “come” in a cheerful voice
When he gets to you, praise him and reward with a little treat
Then run away and repeat the steps to make it a fun game with exercise thrown in
2. Strengthen the Cue by Playing
This exercise will teach your dog that the fun does not always end when they are called.
Practice somewhere with moderate distractions that will make getting your dog’s attention easier.
Begin with your dog on a leash or long-line.
You will need a high value treat at the beginning.
Make sure your dog knows that you have the high value treat – ask for a behavior and reinforce with the treat.
When your dog is moderately distracted with something (person, smell or another dog) call them to you making sure to use your happy excited tone.
Initially, you may need to run backwards acting excited to get their attention off the distraction
If your dog does not respond to the recall, then move on away from the distraction as if nothing happened
Immediately after they come to you and receive their high value treat, release them to continue what they were doing before you called them.
This helps teach them that the fun does not have to stop when they are called.
Keep the following tips in mind as you train your dog a solid recall:
Incorporate the recall into your everyday life.
Always make recalls rewarding and fun.
Use the highest value rewards you have, at least initially and with high distractions.
Make the recall a party. When calling your dog, use your happy voice, be excited, run backwards and then make a big production over them when they get to you. Make it the best thing in the world to your dog.
Practice calling your dog when they are distracted or doing something they like to do. Use a high-value reward with this at the beginning. You will get more repetitions and build a habit faster.
Teaching a reliable recall can be challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding. Excited to learn more? Hearts in Harmony offers a class just for teaching reliable recalls and incorporates recall exercises in their Puppy Kindergarten, Basic Manners and Intermediate Manners classes. So, no matter where you live in Loudoun County - Leesburg, Purcellville, Round Hill or Waterford, getting a reliable recall is as simple as attending Hamilton dog training classes with Hearts in Harmony! Forging a relationship with your pet is once in a lifetime, so make the most of your time with him.