Recall Training is one of the most important cues for your dog to learn, it could save their lives.
Recall Training is Universal. It simply means “come to me when I call you.”
Recall training starts in the house, at a very low distraction level.
Reward when your dog responds to their name, especially when they come to you.
Repeat around the house and in the garden at first, ensuring you reward this consistently.
Building this habit is part of the foundational skills you’ll need to have a bomb proof recall.
Once you’ve done this in the home and garden, take it out the front of your home and down the street! (You can also use this time to practice other cues and ensure they’re strong too)
Then, you can take short walks in quiet areas.
We start in low distraction environments because dogs really do have the cognitive ability of a toddler.
Taking a dog to a busy area with fun things to do and asking them to recall to you is like taking a child to a theme park and asking them to do homework.
They are extremely easily distracted and without building those foundations of habits in their brain, it is very hard for them to action the cue when excited/overwhelmed.
This is often why you find a dog will listen very well in the house and then won’t at the park.
It’s too big of a jump from home to park; we need some middle steps!
This brings me to the picture below. These are two areas in my village that demonstrate what a low distraction environment is.
These photos look very boring to us but in actual fact there is going to be a cornucopia of smells for a dog to be distracted by.
Remember *THE ENVIRONMENT IS A DISTRACTION TOO* – so when you are upping the distractions, just ensure you are adding them slowly and in small numbers.
If your dog isn’t able to focus then take a step back and practice the reinforcement at a lower level.
You can use treats of course but you can also use games and toys for this as well.
Recalling your dog for a quick game of tug and a treat, then release back to whatever they want to do.
Any dog that is a flight risk, that is new, or that isn’t trained impeccably on recall should be on the lead 100% of the time. Unless of course you’ve hired a secure field.
You can buy 20-50ft leads for freedom and training the recall.All dogs should be on a long line for recall training. The point of the long line is twofold:
- having an emergency stop for your dog to ensure safety at all costs!
- stopping your dog from *self rewarding* – this means that every time your dog is allowed to ignore your recall and go and play with other dogs or anything else, this reinforces the habit because it’s fun – interrupting and redirecting to what you need them to do in this time is important, break the habit of ignoring recall.
When training focus around other people or dogs; Always work at a distance your dog can focus on you! Go to areas with people and just work on observation and calm behaviour.
Reinforce by giving a high value reward for focus and engagement. Practice this skill as you decrease the distance to the distraction.
Once your dog is properly conditioned to respond to recall, you’ll find your walks to much less stressful.
Our thanks go to Cleo Wiltshire (FF Level 4 Trainer/Behaviour Consultant) for writing this guide for us.
If you have found this guide useful then you may be interested in our other dog training guides: Dog Training Guides.