The most important behavior you need to teach your dog can also be one of the hardest– recall. You want to be able to rely on the fact that if an emergency ever arises and you need your dog to come– now– they will listen. So what is the best way to make sure your pooch’s recall command is reliable? Here are five tips to help you get started with this important behavior!
1. Don’t use the word “come.” We say “come” to our dogs all the time without ever really thinking about it. At this point in your dog’s life, they have most likely heard this word enough that they have also learned to ignore it. Pick another word that you rarely use, and start training with that as the command. Toss a treat a few feet away so your dog goes after it, call out your new word for recall, and reward your pooch when they come back to you. This is how you teach successful reliable recall.
2. Don’t use your new recall word in a situation where you know your dog will not listen. If you are at the Dog Park and need your pooch, put the leash on him and walk him out instead of trying to call him to come to you.
3. Along the same lines, don’t use your recall word to call your dog and then have him do something he doesn’t like to do. If you need your dog to come so you can put him in the crate and leave for work, or if you need him to come so you can get in the car and go to the vet, approach your dog and put him on leash instead of calling him.
4. When you call your dog and he does come make sure you always have high quality treats to reward him. You want your dog to know that obeying this command will get him a great reward every time, and he will be more likely to listen when he hears that magic recall word.
5. Practice often, and in many different situations. You can work on this command in the house, in the yard, and even on leash when you’re out for a walk. More is always better!
Don’t be discouraged if your pooch doesn’t catch on right away. Reliable recall takes a lot of practice but will be more than worth all the work in the long run!
About the Author: Jessica Vezina is a certified dog trainer, working with animals full-time at Manypaws Pet Villa in Westport, MA. When she is not at work, Jessica does occasional volunteer work, and enjoys spending time with her three cats, and rescue dog named Stella. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or 508-642-4863.