Recalling your name is the most important behavior that you can teach your dog. It could save your dog’s life. Think about your dog running wild and heading for danger. You want your dog to race back to you when you call him.
To teach a dog reliable recall, you need to practice it over and over. Repetition rules are important in recall training. You want to make so many repetitions of recall training that your goal becomes a reflex. When he hears the recall word his body turns towards you and happily races to you.
Consider how you were learning to drive a car for the first time. You had to pay attention to each behavior at first. Seatbelt on. Put your foot on the brake and turn the car on. Make sure you check the mirrors. Now, release the brake or clutch and get on the gas. Today, however, you likely don’t think about every adjustment you make to your pedals or steering wheels.
It takes hundreds of repetitions to get your dog to respond in a natural way. But don’t be discouraged. It’s easier than you might think to train your dog.
DOG RECALL TRAINING TECHNIQUE
Step 1: Keep treats within reach of your dog’s nose/lips. Your recall cue will be used to signal your dog to move towards you in order for them to grab the treats.
Pick a word that will be your special recall cue before you start. If you have been using “Come!” with mixed success, you can start over with “Here!” or even “Quick!”. Once you’ve selected a cue, you should consider it sacred for the first months of your training program. This cue should only be used when you’re training and not for casual situations around the house.
This is the first step. It’s designed to be easy for your dog and introduce the behavior pattern to his mind. This is done by excitedly luring my dog towards me, then quickly backing up approximately five to six steps, and then saying his name and special recall words. “Saber!” – Keep your dog on a four- to six-foot leash. Move backwards as fast as you can, keeping your treats close at hand.
Step 2: Continue practicing Step 1 for five days (at least three or four times per day) and then add treats to your practice. This should be done daily for at most three weeks.
You can also do this in a fun way – and if backing up is difficult or unsafe, you can turn quickly and run several steps away. Then have a happy party and give him treats as he approaches you.
Stop after five to six steps and reward generously. For 15 to 20 seconds, reward your dog with small treats and praise. This process should be repeated five times in one row, at most three to four times per day. You can do 15 to 20 repetitions per day by doing five consecutive sets over three to four training sessions. Each session lasts less than five minutes.
After five days of practice, you can keep the steps the exact same. The only difference is the part where the treat is held within reach of the dog’s mouth. We don’t want your dog to believe that he must see the treat to get the reward word. You can conceal the treats in your pocket, treat pouch, or purse, but reward him just as generously.
This is supposed to feel and look easy. Do not try to make things harder for your dog in this stage. We are building a solid foundation. A recall can be just as unstable without a solid foundation.
People make the most common mistake when it comes to recall training. They practice the recall a few times at home, then expect the behavior will hold up outside of home. Before we test it, we want to train it well.
Recall is a relation-based behavior
It is important to remember that recall is a relationship-based behavior. It all depends on how trusting your dog is in you and whether he feels that it will be worthwhile. Your dog’s response to recall cues will likely be mixed. If you don’t have a habit of rewarding your dog for his behavior (or worse, if you’ve done him some aversive consequences), your dog may be ambivalent about your relationship.
This is not a judgement on any dog that does this. It’s normal and natural for dogs to weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose the one they find most enjoyable. Although it may seem poetic to believe that dogs live to please humans, the truth is they do so by asking “What’s in It for Me Right Now?” and then choosing what works for them. We can become dog trainers if we are able to accept this truth and use our intelligence to create training sessions that allow our dogs to make the best choice.
If your recall is having problems, you should think about how you and your dog interact. Your dog will respond more positively to you if you make it enjoyable for him and show him that you are trustworthy and can be relied upon to do good things. If you have been verbally or physically abusive to your dog, he will naturally hesitate before coming to you. In an emergency situation, your dog should not hesitate to call you. You want him to immediately know that he will get all the best things: praise, affection, food, and attention.
TAKE IT ON YOUR ROAD
You can practice your recall words with your dog on walks around the neighborhood. For the first few days, you can go back to step 1, and give treats at his nose level.
Try giving your dog toys or treats with higher value if he is too distracted. Use very high-value treats – cooked meat, cheese, freeze dried liver, etc. You can easily feed many people by cutting the treats into smaller pieces.
Do not worry if your dog becomes distracted by things outside of his home. Dogs may need to be able to absorb the environment before they can work. They might be curious or nervous, depending on their personality. It can be helpful to give dogs the freedom to explore their surroundings without asking them, nagging or begging. We can also reward their willingness to interact with us by generously rewarding them. Keep practicing at home and think about setting up acclimation tests in other locations.
Pick a new location and place your feet. Your dog can then explore the area to his heart’s delight, but not beyond the limit of the leash. Do not pull on the leash or tug; if your dog is pulling, pretend that you are a post. Don’t ask your dog to pay attention. This is his time. If your dog looks at you and turns his head, you can praise him and give him small, tasty treats. As long as he is still paying attention, you should be able to keep it that way.
If he loses interest, you can revert to your normal behavior and ignore him while you continue to stand your ground. You can relax and let him sniff or look at you for as long as he needs. If your dog is still glued to you after 10 minutes, then you might need to move him to a more interesting location, such as a large empty lot or a forest. Keep your recall training going at home, and continue to train your dog in other places where he can focus on you and your treats.
You can ask him to do a simple action such as “sit”/”down”, and reward him with a treat. You can practice the recall exercise if he is focused on you.
Jessie attached a furry tug-toy to a post, and Nyx was free to explore the toy. This is a low-level distraction for Nyx, who doesn’t like toys.
You’ll find your dog running happily towards you after three weeks of on-leash, regular foundation training. Congratulations! Congratulations! You can continue doing the same thing, but we are ready to introduce the idea of intentionally turning away from distractions.
Recall will be affected by a dog’s ability not to run away from you and to avoid distractions. It’s easy for a dog to get distracted when they are off-leash. It is important to teach our dog that it is worth coming when called, even if we have to leave behind some really fascinating stuff.
Jessie uses her recall cue brightly and joyfully (“Nyx, now Nyx”) to turn and trot toward Jessie (who retraces a few steps before delivering several treats).
Your dog will be grateful that you have been prompt with recall training for three weeks. He may have run toward you nearly 300 times since then. This gives your dog a good head start for the next step. Please do not attempt this step until you have completed three weeks of early foundation training.
Your dog should be on a leash. Take your dog to a familiar tree or bush and lead him. Let him explore and then let him go. Keep your leash loose and move to the end. Keep treats close at your back. Smile and call his name. You can expect one of these two things to occur:
He eagerly turns his head, leaving behind all distractions and running towards you. Keep your distance from him and allow him to follow you for a few more steps. Enjoy a party like a rock star by giving praises, treats, and general merriment that lasts 15 to 20 seconds.
OR . .
The recall word is ignored by your dog and he continues to investigate the distraction. You can either ignore the recall word or continue investigating the distraction. You can mark his movement away from distractions by clicking a clicker, a verbal “Yes!”, or “Good !”),” and get him to follow you.
If he doesn’t respond to your excitement or if you make multiple noises, then your training may be off track. You will need to make more repetitions, get better rewards, or use a lower-level distraction.
Re-practice Steps 1 & 2, with at least five repetitions daily in your yard and house. These distraction setups can be done with your dog on a 6-foot leash. Be generous with your rewards until your dog does a whiplash-like turn in your direction each time you use your recall cue.
N EVERYDAY ROUTINE
You should make recall training a part of your daily routine. When walking with my dogs, I always make it a point to distract them from any minor distractions.
My recall word is used every time I put down a bowl of food and whenever I find leftovers in my pockets. for some simple classical conditioning/pairings of the recall word with wonderful things. Although he may not be directly next to me, food appears magically when he hears the recall word.
In any situation where we are off-leash, I always make it a point of calling my dog several times to me so that I can reward him generously and then let him go. This will make him less likely to believe that being called means it’s time for him to go home and leash-up.
Rules for recall training
Use a leash to train your dog! Your dog will be successful in training and life. If you are unsure of your dog’s recall or if local ordinances require it to be leashed, then keep him on a leash. Even the best-trained dogs may be led away by the smell of a creature, which is common with many animals that are most active between dawn and dusk.
Do not call your dog to you for an unpleasant situation. You can calmly approach your dog if you have to do something that your dog might find unpleasant.
Reward generously. Reward your dog generously. Small, soft, high-value treats can be broken down into small pieces. You can cut a piece of cheese into small pieces that are the size of a game-die and make 10 to 20 small treats. While you praise your dog and give them affection, ten small treats are better than one big treat. It’s dog math!
The recall word should not be used in excess. My recall word (“Here!”) is reserved for situations that put my dog at greater risk. This could be because my dog is not on a leash or because of unforeseen circumstances. I will use casual phrases like “C’mon…let’s go ” or “C’mon…inside” if I am walking down the hallway and want my dog following me.
Avoid static recalls. Dogs love to chase things. Instead of letting your dog stand still while you call him, let him scamper off so that he can chase you.
You can always give your dog food! My dog will live forever with me, even if I let him off-leash (which increases his distractions), but I will always reward him with treats and rewards. He’s not not well-trained. It just means that I know what I’m asking and am willing to pay for it. You don’t have to call him “because I said so”. Keep your ego out of your training.
MISTAKES CAN BE DISCOVERED
Sometimes, even with your best efforts, your dog will not respond to your calls. His response may be more like “Hold on, a second.” I’m busy,” rather than “Woohoo!” This is the party word! “I’m on my path!”
It’s possible to be tempted just to repeat the recall word with an added edge of authority in your voice, but this is not a good idea. Instead, use whatever phrase you are using casually around your house, such as “C’mon…let’s go!”, and clap your hands as you run away from your dog.
Now think about what was distracting him. And think about the distractions that can often present the greatest challenge to your dog. You can learn valuable information from his “mistakes”. You can then set up training trials to help him “hear” your cues once you have identified the situation, sights and smells that make it difficult.
If squirrels are a problem for your dog’s recall, make sure your dog is walking on a leash when he first sees the squirrel. If he’s already in lock-and-load mode, your dog will be unable to recall the squirrel. If your dog’s habit of scavenging food is an obstacle to his ability to respond to your call, you can safely place a low-level food item inside a sealed, vented container and have your dog practice calling you away. No matter what the situation, make sure your dog is correct. Then, work your way up to more difficult variations as your dog demonstrates proficiency at the simpler step.
TRAINING VS. TESTING
Remember: Training takes place when your dog is leashed. Training happens when your dog is on a leash. You and your dog will be more prepared for the next test if you both train!
Dog recalls are perfect when you do daily practice