It can be! But it can also be hard work. It takes consistency, commitment and some time, but it will be well worth the effort.
Firstly just relax, recall training is possible and once achieved both you and your dog will be free to concentrate on enjoying your walks together.
Does your dog only return occasionally when called? Does your dog whizz out of the door as soon as it’s opened? Does your dog chase anything that moves?
Trust me you’re not alone. It’s happened to all of us, and it can be really tough during a dogs rebellious adolescent stage.
We achieved our recall training by consistently working on recall over many months. My advice during this training? Always make sure you are more interesting than the surroundings. Become a constant supply of treats, games, and praise. It’s fun but it’s not always easy being so exciting for every walk, and there were frustrations along the way, but seeing your dog stop mid run and come right back to you enthusiastically makes it all worth while.
If you want to train your dog to reliably come when called give these simple tips a try and it will help improve your dogs recall.
Keep the yelling in control
We’ve all seen that person at the park yelling and screaming at their dog to come back, but have you ever thought about what that experience is like through their dog’s eyes? If I were that dog I’d much rather sniff that tree or roll in something smelly than come back to my angry, yelling owner. Frustration and yelling seems to come so naturally to us when our dog doesn’t listen. It doesn’t, however, do anything to entice our dogs to come back to us.
Chasing that squirrel or smelling that tree is highly rewarding to your dog. When you’re yelling “come here” in a negative tone it’s no wonder they’re going to continue to enjoy their task in hand rather than come back to you – the angry, yelling human.
Your dog will continue to chase and disobey if their distraction is more rewarding than what you have to offer. In order to get our dogs to come when called we need to make ourselves someone that’s consistently enjoyable to our dogs; someone that’s always worth running back to.
Spread the excitement
For many dogs going outside is their big exciting moment of the day. Time to play, run and have fun. It’s pretty hard to compete with that, especially if they have pent up energy. Playing with your dog throughout the day helps them burn off some of that mental and physical energy and makes it easier for them to focus later on. Avoid the instant excitement of going outdoors by playing with your dog for a while before you take them out. This secures your bond and they realise you are amazing fun to be around. The more you actively play with your dog and engage them the more attentive they’ll be when it comes to training. The trick to getting your dogs recall reliable is to assure them that they’re always making a positive choice, and with a lot of practice.
Praise and reward
Consistency and patience are key when it comes to training a dog. When you begin teaching your dog to “come here” the rewards must be given readily and excitedly. Clearly communicate to your dog that coming to you was the best choice they’ve ever made. Don’t rush this is a steady process don’t try to train a new behaviour in a 3 hour long session. Your dog will become disinterested and you will become disheartened. Dog’s don’t have the longest attention spans so keep the training sessions short, sweet and positive for you both. If your dog starts to show signs of growing bored just take a break and pick it up again tomorrow.
Don’t loose heart
It’s very difficult to achieve 100% recall 100% of the time. Not all dogs are as naturally willing to please. Some dogs are much more inclined to roam than others, making recall more difficult for certain dogs to master. Even the best trained dogs will find certain distractions more rewarding than their owners from time to time. The more your practice using positive reinforcement and consistency, the more reliable your dogs recall will be.
You know your dog best! So when they make the right choice and come back to you ensure it was worth their while with a high value treat or favourite game. If your dog keeps receiving great benefits from obeying the “come here” command they’re much more likely to make that same rewarding choice in the future.
Leads are still needed
No matter how well you think your dog is trained there are certain situations where your dog may run. Some dogs will find chasing a rabbit irresistible, while some may run if spooked by a motorcycle. If your dog always comes when called that’s great – but it doesn’t mean you should walk him down the road without a lead. Your dogs safety is always paramount.