recall games

Image credit: Devon Dogs

Want a really reliable recall? Here’s our TOP TIPS!

Following on from last week’s blog where we shared our top 5 energy up recall games, this week we’d like to share our top 5 tips on nailing that perfect recall! Recall is a complex behaviour and it comes part in parcel with the relationship you have with your dog. It’s common sense really. The more value your dog has for you, the more likely they are going to come back when called!

So what is your perfect recall? What does it look like? How does it feel? What are your expectations or criteria for it? Does your recall need work? Are you stuck for ideas? Here are our top 5 tips:

1. Choose a special recall word

Has your dog learnt to ignore their name or current recall word? If that’s the case then it may be best to start from scratch with a new word. To the dog, all the word needs to mean is something amazing is about to happen. Build value for the word by playing the name game.

2. Practice at home first

Set yourself up for success by practicing your recall in your house and then out in the garden before taking your training out and about. When your dog is ready to be tested gradually build in distractions. When you are starting out don’t throw them in at the deep end by taking them to the park at the busiest time when there are lots of other dogs around. Building in distractions gradually is essential to the success of your recall training.

3. Use a Training Line

The first rule with recall is to only say your word once. What do you do if your dog ignores you we hear you ask? Well, you go and get them. We appreciate that approaching your dog may instigate a game of chase me so using a training line puts paid to such shenanigans! By attaching the line to a harness and leaving it to trail means that if your dog ignores your recall, you can go and get them and if need be, you can step on the line to stop them from running off. This keeps your criteria black and white. As an extra tip, we recommend tying knots in the line so it doesn’t slip through your feet.

4. Teach your dog to love having their collar grabbed

Most of the time the end bit of your recall is that you take the collar to attach the lead. Does your dog love having their collar grabbed or do they shy away? The collar grab game is simple. Grab collar, feed a treat, remove hand…and repeat. By doing this game you are building value for the collar being grabbed. If played enough it becomes a really fun game and you may find that your dog starts offering you their neck as they are so eager to have their collar grabbed!

5. Don’t be obvious

If you only recall your dog when the walk is ending, your dog will soon learn this pattern! Throughout your walk practice your recall (don’t forget to reward your dog) many times and randomly attach the lead and then let your dog go again so your dog never knows when the fun is over.

6. Recall training should be fun

Remember all recall needs to mean to your dog is; I heard that special word, something amazing is about to happen – I had better get back to find out what it is.” And on that note, make sure something amazing does happen! Reward, celebrate and have a party with your dog when they have recalled.

As we say to our life skills students, let go of your inhibitions and show your dog how pleased you are that they have come back. At the end of the day, cheering, whooping, clapping, congratulating and rewarding your dog when it comes back is far less embarrassing than having a dog that is running amok in the park!

You can read more of our Thursday Training Tips HERE.

kelly-murrellAbout the Author: Kelly Murrell helps out with some of the work in the office at Devon Dogs, particularly with marketing and advertising. She used to work in the office at East Bowerland Farm, and recently moved to Vancouver Island, Canada with her husband. She is an avid dog trainer and regularly posts dog training tips for Devon Dogs, Bowerland and Progressive Paws.

Spread the word. Share this post!