What is recall and why is it important?
To put this as basic as we can, a ‘recall’ is when you call your dogs name and he or she immediately stops what they are doing and comes to you. This can be very usefull for calling your dog back when it’s time to go home, or even as extreem as saving them from danger, such as a busy road (if they’re escaping the park or somehow broke free from thier lead) and everything in between.
Getting started! – The basics
To get sterted, start in a quiet place where your dog can focus on you without other distractions around. When they’re walking towards you (and are getting close), call thier name along with the word ‘come’ in a higher pitched and happy voice. When they reach you make a massive fuss out of them, say ‘good boy / girl to come’, you can even give them a small treat. You can gradually build the distances between you and your dog when calling them to you.
With this exrcise your dog will learn that coming to you is a good thing and better than anything else.
Let’s make learning fun! – Time to play a game!
The rules of the game are really simple, but like all good things, they’re really effective too! – Start in a quiet place with your partener or a close friend. Hold your dog while the other person is on the other side of the getting them all excited, but not saying their name or the word ‘come’, after a short while, they can call the dogs name and the word come. When they do, release the dog and let them run to the other person. They now must make a big fuss of the dog and treat or toy reward them. Now get them to do the exact same for you, make sure you’re not using the dogs name or the word ‘come’ to get them excited and then say their name and the word come, before releasing them. This way we are building word association. Make sure you dont do this too much or your dog may become tired or bored. 3-4 times is enough for one session.
Adding a hand signal
Some dog owners like to add a hand signal, you can do this too. I think the most common one is to point towards your toes with your index finger and click your middle finger and thumb. This is really simple for you to add. You want to stay in a quiet place to introduce and practise this. Walk away from your dog and call thier name and the word ‘come’ allong with your chosen hand signal. Praise and reward them when they come to you. Once your dog gets to know the signal, you can just call thier name along with the signal as well as thier and the word come or all 3. Rememebr to mix it up to keep them all fresh in your dogs mind. Remember not to practise for too long at a time, you don’t want your dog to get bored. Coming to you shold always be a good thing.
Practise makes perfect!
Okay, so we have all the basics, you can now start calling your dog to other rooms in the house. You dont need somone to hold them in a room, you just walk into another room, then call their name and th word ‘come’ remembering to reawrd them once the come to you and not to do this too much at a time. This will encouage your dog to come to you even when youre not in sight.
Let’s take things outside
You and your dog are doing great! Lets try adding a little distraction, preferably in your own private garden. Practise your reacall using what you have learned abouve. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait until your dog is distracted by an activity and then call them to you. Praise thier decision to comply.
Time to go to the park
Once you have the above down to a fine art, you can go to a slightly larger space to keep practising. preferably somewhere still closed in, but larger than your garden. Let your dog run and play, then call them to you, reward them, then let them go and play again.
What you shouldn’t do
Do not chase your dog if they wont return to you unless it’s an emergency, dogs love a game of chase!
Do not get angry if your dog doesn’t come straight to you, they will get distracted at times, rememebr to always reward them when they do eventually come back, don’t tell them off for ignoring you.
You sould never use a shock or spay collar
When you have got this down to a fine art and you’re at the park, call your dog back to you and reward them, clip thier lead up, walk a while, then send them off a few times during the walk. This way your dog never knows why you’re calling them back. If your dog gets to know everytime you call them in the park, it’s time to leave, they are less likely to respond as they are likely to want to stay and play.
What is a long line and should I use one?
A long line is basically a really long lead (about 10m is best). The idea behind them is you can reinforce the comand if your dog decides to ignore you, or to stop them straying too far when practising recall in a large open space. There are mixed opions about them and the decission is yours. I personally think they are great when first moving to large open spaces, just so that your dog doesn’t escape.