You’ve trained your dog to come when called and have never had a problem when suddenly your dog is not responding as fast as he once did. Maybe he is taking a moment to sniff around, or maybe he’s ignoring you completely.
If this sounds like your dog, it is time to get back to basics and work on your dog’s recall. Recall, or teaching your dog to come reliably when called, is important to his health and safety and an important part in obedience training. Reliable recall is one of the most important things a dog can learn.
Recall is not only an excellent way to protect your dog from danger; it also affords dogs some great benefits such as getting to enjoy some freedoms like going off leash at the park or beach that dogs without recall can’t do.
No matter how well trained your dog is, consistent ongoing training is needed to keep recall skills sharp and if your dog is not coming as fast as he once did, it time to get back to basics.
Whether you’re just trying to hone your dog’s skills or you’re training him in recall for the first time, the basic fundaments are the same. You’ll need to start with the basics and make sure your dog understands what you are asking him to do.
Remind your dog that when he comes to you something positive happens. You do this by using treats or praise or affection. Every time your dog comes to you throughout the day, take some extra time to rewards his obedience-even if you only asked him to cross a room to come to you.
Practicing recall throughout the day by asking your dog to come to you every so often. When he quickly responds, immediately reward him. A clicker is perfect for marking this behavior. Think of the click as snapping a photo of exactly the behavior you want your dog to remember. Practice the recall command 10 to 20 times a day changing things up a bit each time. For example call him from another room, when the doorbell rings, before you take him out, when other distractions present themselves, etc.
Whenever you let your dog outdoors, practice the recall. When you see your dog sniffing around, have him come and mark the behavior and praise. Keep this up and call your dog during exercise, playtime, potty breaks and more.
By now your dog should be coming each time he is called with no hesitation and you should also be practicing with your dog while outside. When your dog is coming reliably again, it is time to add distractions. Ask friends and neighbors to help or take advantage of whatever is happening in everyday life you can. If the meter read is there, recall your dog. If the UPS truck shows up, recall your dog. If you see your dog chasing a bird, recall your dog. Each time your dog comes when you call, reward the behavior.
Start by putting your dog on a long line in your front yard or at the park and practice recalls. If you have kids, have them ride their bikes or play nearby to increase distractions. Keep working on this until your dog is coming each and every time you call. When you feel your dog is ready, begin taking trips to the park and practice on the long line.
Recall is a command that can save your dog’s life and by reinforcing this training throughout your dog’s life, you will help prevent him from getting rusty. Whenever you have the chance to practice, you should. If your dog is having a play day, practice the recall. If you’re at the park and there is something going on that your dog finds fascinating, practice the recall. Make it fun, reward your dog, and be sure your dog always wants to come back to you.