If you want your dog to come when you call, you need to get into his head that arriving with you is the best thing ever!
Instead of asking your dog to leave an exciting something to come to boring you, change his mindset so that he sees your call as an opportunity to spin on a sixpence and race straight to you like a missile.
And here are some NEVERS and some ALWAYS’s to keep you on the straight and narrow
9 Rules for a Perfect Recall
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1. NEVER, EVER, reprimand your dog when he comes to you. If he runs to you and you tell him off, how likely is it that he’ll come next time you call? It doesn’t matter what he did when he was “out there” - coming back to you has to be the best thing he ever did. Be sure he knows that his prompt return always makes you very, very happy!
2. NEVER go on a walk without a stash of really good treats in your pocket. ”Really good” does not include his kibble, cat biscuits, or pocket fluff. Rather - cheese, sausage, hot dog, beefburger … If you did a good turn for someone and they gave you a dry biscuit as a reward, how likely would you be to put your hand up next time they’re looking for a favour? A whole chocolate cake? Now that’s a different matter!
3. NEVER call your dog, and - when he doesn’t respond - say “Ah well, I’ll call him a bit later.” This has been noted, documented, and logged by your dog, and filed under the heading “I only need to come when I’m called sometimes.” This is the absolute last thing we want him to learn! He needs to know that when he hears his name, he comes back - every time.
4. ALWAYS vary your rewards. Sometimes he gets a lump of beefburger when he arrives with you; sometimes he gets 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 tiny bits of cheese posted into his mouth one after the other; sometimes you hurl his toy behind you as he approaches, then race him to the toy; sometimes as he runs towards you you take off at high speed away from him - game on! - dogs all love to chase! What else could you do to excite your particular dog?
5. NEVER call him unless you have a 90% chance of him coming. Choose your moment, call him and refer to no.3 above. He doesn’t come? Then if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. Go up to him and call him from one yard away. Success! Big lump of sausage!
How soon should I start training my puppy to recall?
As soon as you get your new puppy or new dog, they should be learning that responding to their name is the best thing ever. Read this post to give you a start.
Dogs love running fast. Make sure that running fast towards you is always more rewarding than running fast in the opposite direction.
It takes time and steady application to develop a super recall. But think how proud you’ll be when you can call your dog’s name (once!) and he stops dead, spins round, and hurtles back to you! And think how relieved you’ll be if he had been racing towards a road, or a sabre-toothed tiger (or whatever hazards you have in your neck of the woods).
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