Here you will find 7 training tips to transform your dogs recall into something that can be relied on, even with distractions going on around them. Find out tips on how to start your dogs recall journey, how to fix recall when its gone a bit wayward and how to keep it supercharged.

Learn what recall really is and how you can supercharge it starting today. With short, frequent and fun training sessions your dog can and will enjoy off lead freedom. Imagine walks where your dog keeps an eye on you rather than you having to wonder where they are and what they’re doing.

Read on below for the tips and tricks that you need for recall success.

1 management

If you’re still letting your dog practice what you don’t want you can train recall forever and get nowhere! So if they are ignoring you, making a detour as they come back or visiting other people and dogs when off lead, its time to put some management in place. The good news is that management for recall is pretty simple. All you need to do is prevent your dog from rehearsing what you don’t want so keep them on lead or use a long line. You can then start to train a reliable recall and rehearse more of what you do want. Management is an absolute essential. Of course at some point you will want them to be off lead again but this will only happen when you have grown lots of value for engaging with you and value for being close to you.

2 build strong foundations

Start simple, low pressure and keep it fun. All too often recall can become a pain point that frustrates us and becomes something that we find a chore. Setting your dog up for success makes training much more successful and achievable. So start at home where there are less distractions.

3 motivate them

Dog tugging on toy
It’s all about the experience we are providing

Reward experiences are something I’m so passionate about and could actually do a whole course on. If we motivate our dogs to want to work/engage and have value in us, so much hard work is already done. Think about your dog being off lead and spotting another dog on the other side of the field. They start to run towards it and you recall them. “Yes” they’re turning back and running back to you. AMAZING. But when they get to you, you reward them with an unexciting little dry biscuit. Was that worth it for your dog? Probably not and maybe next time they’ll think twice about coming back or they won’t come back as quickly.

So what do you do? Well they wanted to chase after the other dog, so we can give them a chase. That could be after us as they recall back or we could whip out their favourite toy and let them chase after that as we animate it. It really is all about the experience and the motivation.

4 Fun, low pressure games

We know ourselves that as soon as pressure is added to a situation, it becomes less fun. Think planning a party. You’ve planned it in your head down to every detail but when the planning actually starts happening it can go very differently than you imagined and its not as fun as it was. It’s the same with training and especially training recall. If we add pressure, our dogs soon find what we’re asking them to do more difficult. If we see training more as what we get to do rather than what we have to do, it’s so much more enjoyable for us and our dogs.

5 Consider the environment

Of course we all want the end game. We want an amazing recall no matter what’s going on in the environment but if we start training around lots of distractions too soon, its very difficult for our dogs and we see less success. So if your dog isn’t able to do something that you might have been working on, you might have to think about the environment and make it a bit easier for them.

6 its all about proximity

Freddie walking close to Michelle
Off lead doesn’t have to mean less engagement with you

Recall is often over complicated, but essentially it’s value for Proximity and your dog wanting to engage and be close to you. We all know or have had dogs that as soon as they are unclipped from their lead they just head off seeking adventure. We don’t get a backwards glance and there goes any sort of connection we had. Value for proximity is where you can unclip your dogs lead and they look to you, engage with you and choose to remain close to you because you hold value. Maybe you’ll play a game, get a toy out or release them to go for a run. When your dog truly has value for proximity, they might be off lead but they look back to you, keep an eye on you and don’t just head off without you. Now doesn’t that sound like something great!

7 no nagging

If we don’t have management in place and continue to call our dog over and over while they ignore us this will not go towards building engagement or value for being around us. Dogs know what’s a good deal and if that’s heading over to other dogs or sniffing in bush then that’s what they’ll do. If we say their name over and over it becomes white noise that they don’t have value in responding to anymore. So use management to prevent rehearsal of what you don’t want and no nagging!!!

food, glorious food

Giving a dog a piece of food
Reinforce behaviour you want to see more of with rewards they love

With 7 top tips already, I thought you’d like a bonus one to really supercharge that recall. The bonus tip is all about food rewards. With so many foods to reward your dog with, what do you choose. The most important thing when deciding is thinking about what your dog loves. It’s easy for us to grab something they like but what do they love? For the most part I like to ditch the bowl and use my dogs dinner to train with. You’d be feeding it to them anyway so let’s use it to reward great choices. Find out more about ditching the bowl here.

When not using their daily food allowance choose something your dog really loves. Think liver, chicken, sausage or even some of the better high quality natural treats that you can buy.

So with those hints and tips, have a think about what your dog’s recall looks like now and what you want it to look like. Then do some training, join a class, have a 121 with a trainer and have fun with your dog.

As a dog trainer I am asked about recall daily. If you or anyone you know needs some recall guidance I’d suggest they get in touch with a good trainer who can help them. Dog training is still unfortunately an unregulated business so always ask lots of questions before you train with someone. The IMDT is a great place to find an assessed trainer.

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