Training Tips and Tricks! Teaching Your Dog a Reliable Recall.
Teaching your dog a reliable recall or “come when called” is one of the most valuable cues to work on, both for your dog’s safety and your own peace of mind.
A reliable recall means your dog will come when called 100% of the time, the first time, no matter the environment. Here are a few tips for teaching a reliable recall:
- Practice it, don’t use it! Practice means you are in a low distraction environment where you can guarantee your dog will come to you when you call them. You have treats ready to give and you have control of the situation with either a leash, long lead, or few enough distractions that you have your pup’s undivided attention. Using the cue means you are not sure your dog will come when called, for example at the park, at a playdate, or if they get loose.
- “Load” the cue! Loading a cue means helping your dog make the association between the cue and a positive outcome. In this example, we want to make sure your dog understands that when they hear the word “come” amazing things happen as soon as they get to you! I recommend using an extra special treat like cheese or lunch meat that they only get when they hear that cue. That special treat will ensure they get to you as fast as possible to get that special reward!
- Say it once! It is natural for us as humans to repeat words if we don’t get the desired outcome. When it comes to our pups, the more they hear a word, the more they learn to either ignore it, or that they don’t need to listen to it the first time. That’s obviously not ideal for a reliable recall! Before you say “come” make sure you have your dog’s attention, then say it one time, clearly and excitedly! From there, just give tons of encouragement without repeating the cue. Use phrases like “That’s it! This way! Keep going!” so your dog knows they’re on the right track.
When practicing, be the most interesting thing in the room. If your dog doesn’t come when called, it means there is something (or someone) else they’d rather come to!