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  • Writer's pictureFiona Alder

Top Tips For Successful Dog Recall Training

Updated: Mar 5

Recall can be a tricky command to teach your dog, especially when you are competing against lots of other distractions in the park. A dog who can be safely let of the lead is a joy to walk so here are my top tips to help get you closer to a reliable recall.

Dog Recall training
Betsy coming back when called

1 - Have a separate recall command, don't just use your dog name

It's common for people to use their dog's name to call their dog back in the park. My first top tip is to have a separate recall command such as "Come" or "Here". Dogs hear their name all the time so it doesn't give them a specific instruction. Teach your dog that a certain word equals a great reward. This can be done as easily as saying the word then giving your dog several of his favourite treats (make it memorable!), repeat at least 4 times every day for a week, your dog will soon learn to come running whenever he hears the cue word!

2 - Make sure your rewards are worth coming back for!

What rewards you use will make a big difference in your dog's motivation to return to you. Keep your dog's favourite treat just for the park, use something like chicken, sausage, cheese or a special toy. Let your dog know you have something special by practising a few recalls early on in the walk when it's quiet.

3 - Change direction to keep your dog guessing

If your dog is being called back all the time, he is more likely to start ignoring you, especially if you are calling him away from fun with other dogs without offering him something in return. Changing direction often on walks will help keep your dog focused on you without recalling him. Teach your dog that "this way" means you are going in a different direction, if he thinks you are heading off and he might lose you, he is more likely to follow. Puppies like to keep their owner's insight, moving in the opposite direction is a great way to get them to follow you and away from a distraction.

4 - Use games to motivate your dog to come to you

One of the most common reasons a dog's recall might not be great is that he finds other dogs more fun. Show your dog that you are worth staying around by taking toys to the park. Games with your dog are a great way to reinforce recall, when your dog comes back to you bring out a toy for a quick game of tug or throw a ball to play fetch. Tug-e-Nuff do a great range of toys that dogs can't resist (use code BETSYS to get 10% off), keep them special for the park to keep your dog super excited when you bring one out for a play!

5 - Use a long line while you train your dog a reliable recall

Teaching your dog to come back when there are lots of distractions around takes time and lots of positive reinforcement training. If your dog is still learning it's really important to use a 10m long line so your dog has lots of room to run around but he can't run off and ignore your command.

6 - Make sure your recall cue has been thoroughly proofed

Proofing is the most important stage of any training. Dogs are unable to generalise training like we humans can, which means they need to be taught all commands in lots of different locations and situations before they really understand it. Proofing is the stage of practising your training in lots of different environments, if your dog has an excellent recall response in the home, this doesn't mean he will understand the command in the park unless you've practised the training there too.

7 - Use the distractions as a reward

If your dog loves to play with other dogs, use this as a reward for recall. Practise calling him back when he is nearby and before he engages with the other dog, then release him with “Go play” as a reward.

8 - Practise recall on every walk

Recall practise should be part of every walk, don’t just use it when you need it. 10/15 mins into the walk, practise calling your dog back to remind him it’s worth coming back for great rewards (that could be food or a quick game of tug) and then he won’t see the recall cue as a signal for the end of something he enjoys.

A reliable recall takes time and lots of positive reinforcement. It’s important to slowly build in distance and distractions to your training, motivate and interact with your dog to increase his focus on you and do lots of proofing to make it really robust.

If you are struggling to get your dog back in the park and need help training a recall cue get in touch about my 121 training packages.

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