Ways To Improve Your Dog’s Recall
Recalling your dog is arguably the most important skill you can teach them as it’s essential for taking them out in public and for establishing a trusting relationship. There are other essential skills your dog must learn (toilet training being an obvious example) but in terms of behavior and obedience training, this skill tops the list. Having the ability to call on your dog and have them return to you at any time, no matter what they are doing, is the ultimate skill your dog should have.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always come easy and it can take long periods of training to get it right. Some breeds will learn quicker than others and some may need trained over moths or even a year to really perfect this skill. Thankfully there are lots of things you can do to improve your dog’s response and to help them learn quicker. While the results will vary from dog to dog, some of these ways to improve your dog’s recall will be sure to work when combined with determination and training consistency. So, if you’re looking to adopt, brushing up on your knowledge or you’re already having difficulty training your adorable doggo, we’ll have helpful advice in this list for you. Ready? Let’s get started!
Start From The Beginning
Training a young pup will undoubtedly be easier than training an adult as they are constantly experiencing new things and will be eager to follow instructions to please their owner. Although this isn’t always possible if you’re adopting an older doggo, starting training form the beginning might be enough to help correct bad habits while also helping to develop new and better habits. Start in the small confines of a garden or use gates or dividers to create a small training area. If your dog wanders more than a few meters away, try calling their name for them to return. If they do, be sure to give a positive response with either treats or petting. If not, collect them and bring them back to where you were originally standing so they understand the object of this command.
Make It Worth Their Time!
Every time your dog responds correctly to your call and returns to you, make sure you reward them with an enthusiastic and affectionate response. If they learn that by responding to your command they have made you feel happy, they will mirror your enthusiasm by wanting to return whenever you call.
Unfortunately, smiles and affection alone might not always work so you may have to convince your companion to respond using the temptation of treats. This doesn’t have to be food. You can use their favorite toy to tempt them, too! If they smell food, hear or see their toy (particularly if it’s squeaky), they will be more likely to return quickly and enthusiastically. As soon as your dog responds to your call you should show them their reward, this will encourage them to keep running back to you and should eliminate distractions as they return. By showing rewards immediately, your dog will learn to return quickly and it might help when training from a further distance. So, although we’re told bribery isn’t good, on this occasion it’s harmless and really useful for training a hardworking and obedient doggy.
Keep It Short At First
Training sessions should generally be kept short, not just while your pup is young but later in their life too. Long periods of training can cause all kinds of problems, but we’ll get into that later! When you begin recall training with a pup or older dog, keep the distance short at first. If you try to call on them from too far away, they might decide the distance is too far to travel or, on their way back to you they may become distracted and run off. Keep the distance short (a few meters) at first then then gradually increase the distance throughout the learning process. This will eliminate any bad habits like distractions and provide a sense of fulfilment as your determined doggo will be sure they can successfully return to you!
Be Consistent With Calling
If you call your dog’s name followed by a command (“heel”, “come”, or whatever you choose), be consistent with this command. If you call out different commands while you’re training your dog, they might become confused with the different sounds they’re hearing which means they won’t know what you want from them. By sticking with the same command repeatedly, your dog should learn over time what this word/sound means and will respond to it quickly and efficiently.
Similarly, when you’re out walking your dog, call on them as you would when training in the garden or another environment. If they respond to one command in training, you should use only that command elsewhere as this is the word your dog has associated with returning to you. If you change words your dog may become confused so it’s always best to be consistent.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat…
Just like everything, repetition is the key to successful results. Training your dog often to respond to your call is essential for them learning what your call means and what is expected of them. However, this doesn’t mean you should always be training and, when you do, it shouldn’t be too intense. Like us, dogs require suitable conditions for learning, so stress and overworking should be avoided at all costs as it isn’t healthy and may cause your dog more harm than good. If you see your pup is unresponsive to your commands or just doesn’t want to train that’s okay, just let them have fun and train later. Just like us, pets aren’t always in the mood to work so its important to notice your dog’s behavior before you train.
Training a few times throughout the day and in different environments is the key to successful repetitive training. If you try training your precious pup for too long they will almost certainly become uninterested, bored or may associate the command with a negative and tiring experience. So, keep the training periods short, frequent and in various environments throughout the day to achieve the best results!
Train, Rest, Repeat
If you’re training your dog regularly (which you should be), they will definitely need some rest, and you might too! After a long walk or a particularly active play session, your tired pup might need some well-deserved downtime so it’s important they receive the same treatment after training. Not only will it improve their enthusiasm when it comes to training later, but scientists have proven that rest after training is essential for consolidating learning and improving responses to future training.
Let Someone Else Try
So, you’re teaching your dog to return to you when you call their name and a command. But, what if someone else has to walk your dog or look after them? Will they respond the same way to another person? This will vary from dog to dog and it can be a real hit-or-miss situation. Usually, a dog will have to be familiar with a person before they follow commands so it’s unlikely this will happen right away. However, if your friends or family have met your dog regularly and there is some form of relationship between the two, it might just work.
It can be really beneficial for friends or family to try out new skills you’ve been teaching and training your dog. As recall is one of the most important skills and is necessary for keeping your dog safe in public, it’s recommended that other people help with this training.
Let Them Return To Fun After Recall
If you’ve had to call on your dog while they were doing something fun or while they were exploring a new area or environment, let them return to it afterwards. By rewarding your curious canine with the experience they were just having, they should learn that returning to you doesn’t mean they can’t explore or have fun. This means they learn there is a reason for returning to you and that they can still go back to the fun they were having before.
For this same reason it’s incredibly important that you don’t make your obedient doggy do anything they don’t like immediately following recall. If you know your dog doesn’t like taking a bath, having their hair brushed or some other activity, don’t call on them using the same command as they may associate the negative experience afterwards with this command. When your pup has grown up a little or if they’ve mastered recall, you might be able to use the same command for this action, but it should be avoided while they’re young and still learning.
If you’re trying to teach your dog recall or you’re just preparing while looking to adopt, we hope these tips and tricks prove useful. Although it’s not the easiest task, teaching your dog recall is super important for keeping them safe in public. If you put in the hard work and determination, your dog will do the same and you’ll soon experience the benefits of having an obedient and loyal doggo who loves to return when you call their name.