Has your dog’s recall gotten a little lazy?
Have you asked yourself if you’re like the dude with chili stains on his t-shirt belching on the couch who complains that his wife doesn’t like to have sex with him? Because you have to be attractive to your dog if you want her to come to you.
A Dog Who Comes When You Call
Training your dog to come when you call her is crucial for safety. I’ve seen Honey’s recall fail at critical times and it has strengthened my commitment to keeping her coming to me the second I call her.
Of course teaching a golden retriever to come to you takes relatively little skill. They’ve been bred for generations to retrieve things and return them to their people.
But even Honey will occasionally decide that something is more interesting than returning to my side.
That’s why we train, retrain, and reinforce training a perfect recall.
Because if Honey finds something else more interesting than me, I start to wonder if she thinks I look like that chili belching dude on the couch.
9 Tips For Improving Your Dog’s Recall
I’m not much of a dog trainer. But here are the best tips I’ve scrounged from professional trainers, other smart people, and just seeing what works with Honey and dogs I’ve fostered.
Set Your Dog Up For Success
If you’re training recall for the first time or shaping up a skill that’s gotten rusty, stack the decks by calling your dog when he’s inclined to come to you anyway (like when you’ve just put down his food or gotten out his leash for a walk). Don’t start out poisoning your recall cue by calling your dog when he’s having a great time barking at the fence or chasing squirrels.
Take Advantage Of Your Dog’s Instincts
Most dogs love to chase. Your dog will be more likely to come to you if you start moving away from her to encourage the chase instinct than if you just stand still.
Why should a dog come to you if he know’s he’s always going to get a scratch and praise every single time? Hide a squeaky in your pocket, a stinky treat, a cool tug toy. And reward him when he comes to you with some cool surprise.
Reward Your Dog With What She Enjoys Most
If your dog loves barking at the neighbors, reward her for coming to you by letting her go back to barking. If she loves goose poop, let her go back and have a sniff or even a tiny nibble to thank her for coming to you (Disclaimer: No, I’m not a vet and I’m expecting you to use your own common sense. Do not let your dog eat goose poop if he has a compromised immune system or a sensitive stomach. And do not reward your dog with a bit of barking if your neighbors are sensitive to noise and carry guns.)
Check out the cool video on this post telling you how this can work.
Find A New Cue
If your dog ignores the word you’ve used to call him, find a new cue. It might be time to start using “here, boy” or “let’s go” if he no longer hears the word “come.”
Don’t Expect Your Dog To Come When You Say Her Name
Lots of people expect their dogs to come to them when they say their names. I believe we use a dog’s name to get her attention and tell her what we want to do once we have it.
Would you come running to someone’s side just because they called your name?
Practice At Different Times And Places
Just because your dog comes running to you in the house, doesn’t mean he’ll do the same thing out at the park. If you want your dog to come to you at the park, you have to practice at the park.
Sure, it’s nice to know your dog will come to you around the house. But the real reason to practice recall is for that scary moment when a squirrel attracts your dog across a busy street or an aggressive dog shows up at the dog park with his clueless person.
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To be ready for those outdoor dangers, you need to practice outdoors. But find an open area that is secure (tennis courts are great for outdoor dog training) or use a long training lead. (affiliate)
Both Honey’s breed and her innate temperament strengthen her recall. If she takes a few steps toward chasing the geese when we’re walking off-leash, she will turn on a dime and return to me if I call her.
I’ve fostered any number of beagles and hound mixes, however, who don’t even hear me when they’re absorbed in an interesting scent.
Not every dog will instantly return to your side anytime or anywhere just because you called them. Heck, even Honey can’t do that.
Training call is much harder for some dogs than for others. But every dog can improve his recall. And that’s a worthy goal.
Why Work On Recall
A strong recall will keep your dog safe. It will strengthen your bond. And seeing your dog running toward you with love in her eyes will assure you that you’re far more attractive than some sweaty dude on a couch smelling like corn chips.
Your Turn: Do you work on your dog’s recall? What tips work best for you?
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