One of the most important skills your dog needs to learn is to come when called. Popularly known as recall, it is a crucial skill for off-leash life.
Remember, being let off leash is an earned privilege, not a right. You should only let your dog wander off leash if it has good recall manners.
If not, your dog will be put on a lead for the rest of his life. Now, there is nothing wrong with walking your dog on a leash. But every now and then, dogs love to roam and run free. That is possible only if you have a good recall.
You might think it is easy to teach your dog to come when called. But that is not the case. It might be easy when you are in an open field and there is nothing and nobody around you.
But in real-life, with distractions all around you, recall is a bit more challenging.
Why your dog needs reliable recall?
There is a simple reason why is recall important. And that is safety. Having the ability to call your dog can prevent many dangerous and life-threatening situations.
For starters, it can stop your dog from crossing the street. Or approaching another dog, for which you do not know if it is friendly or not.
Reliable recall refers to the act of calling your dog to come and always expecting them to respond. Dogs with a strong prey drive have trouble learning recall, and they need a bit more work.
What is a reliable recall?
Dog trainers often say the word “reliable recall”. But exactly how reliable can your dog be? Remember, no dog is 100% reliable. That is damn-near impossible to achieve. Just think about it, we as humans are not reliable 100% of the time.
Reliable recall means that your dog will come when called 8 or 9 times out of 10. Yes, that 10th time might be a problem, but you can work on it.
If you want to allow your dog to run off-leash outside, you have to have a reliable recall. Today, we will talk about three tricks you can use to improve your recall game.
What is the best way to train recall?
What do we say about students? The easiest way to learn something is through a game. Well, the same applies to dogs. The best way to teach recall is to make training a game for your puppy. In other words, make your dog think that coming and being near you is the best thing in the world and full of fantastic rewards.
Even with the tricks we will mention, it is crucial that you start slow and in a low-distraction environment. For example, inside your house. Then, as your dog is getting better and better, you can move outside.
The biggest mistake owners make is they go for the big kill at first. That is, trying to teach recall in a high-distractions environment. You cannot start teaching recall in the dog park. When you go there, your dog should be reliable.
Recall Trick No.1 – Happy Voice
This is a trick I often use with Milo when he might ignore a recall. Basically, you just try to make things fun. Instead of simply saying “come”, “come back”, or “Milo”, I do it in a happy and enthusiastic voice. It sounds like coming will result in a huge party and fun time.
Using a happy voice does something unique for your puppy. It uses his curiosity to your advantage. Who doesn’t want to come when something happy and fun is happening?
Recall Trick No. 2 – Repeat
There is a Latin saying, “repetition est mater studiorum”. It means “repetition is the mother of learning”. For this recall tip, all you have to do is call your dog several times in a row. It gets him coming back and back to you.
With every next command, increase the distance. Say, your dog is wandering, call him, release him, and then instantly call him back while moving backward to increase distance.
Recall Trick No.3 – Chase me
If you have a dog with a strong prey drive, this is the trick you can use. Basically, it turns your dog’s prey drive into his reward.
What do you need to do? Just call your dog, turn around, and start running in another direction. Your dog will love to chase you. He will come running to you. This trick teaches your dog to stick around you and make sure you are not running away. It also improves your puppy’s follower state of mind.
But the best part? It is an exercise and makes training fun. For dogs that love to hunt, it works even better. Because of their prey drive, you can use it to your advantage. It will vastly improve your dog’s recall by making it fun for your puppy to use its instinct, which is chasing you.