Tips and Tricks: Recall Training Your Dog
by Mary M. Alward
Do you have to keep an eagle eye on Buddy when you’re bringing in the groceries or answer a knock on your door? Is he just itching to make a mad dash for the great outdoors whenever the door is opened? If he makes his escape, does he fail to come back when called? If so, don’t despair, Buddy needs recall training.
Having a dog that comes the first time you call him is a rare thing. More often, it is the product of a grueling training schedule; repetition, rewards; repetition rewards. You probably know the scenario by now. If not, you have a lot to learn.
Before you throw your hands up in defeat and make Buddy wear his leash both indoors and out, or risk losing him to the dangers of the street, consider recall training.
Recall training has two basic concepts. The first is to treat your dog well each time he comes to you. Be it a kind word, a pat on the head, or a scratch behind the ears, Buddy will relish the affection you show him.
The second concept takes much more effort. Purchase a line that measures ten to twenty feet. Clip it onto Buddy’s collar and take him to the park or into the yard. Then, start training.
The line allows Buddy to put some distance between you. When Buddy has ventured almost to the end of his line, call him. A simple, “Buddy come,” will suffice. Be sure to have lots of treats in your pocket just in case he shocks you and comes immediately. If he does come, give him a treat. The worst scenario is that you will have to reel in the line to make him come. With this method, Buddy is responsible for his own behavior, but you still have control over the situation if he doesn’t obey.
If Buddy sits perfectly still when you give the “come” command, or watches birds and squirrels playing in a nearby tree, he hasn’t obeyed. Either reel him in, or go and get him and bring him to the spot where you gave the command. If this is the case, Buddy gets no reward, but no punishment either. Down play the incident and try again later.
The next time you try recall training, follow the same agenda. Never repeat the “come” command. Buddy should come the first time he’s called. If not, reel him in or go and get him and take him to where you gave the command. Down play the incident and try again later. Do this again and again and… well, you get the picture. Repetition is the name of the game. The process is long. It may take a week, a month, a year or more of constant recall training before Buddy gets it right and comes on your first command every time. But…diligence pays off and in time when you say, “come,” Buddy will obey.
In the meantime recall training will have its ups and downs. There will be times when Buddy will come. When this happens, give him a treat, rub his head, and scratch his ears and say, “good boy,” or some thing similar. Whatever else you do, reward his obedience immediately. He’ll soon get the message that obedience reaps rewards and affection.
Above all, never scream, yell, or hit Buddy if he doesn’t obey. If you do, it will set your training efforts back to day one. Buddy will fear you and instead of coming on command, he will put more distance between the two of you. When he doesn’t obey simply go to him, grasp his collar and gently take him to where you gave the command. This lets him know you are ready to enforce your commands and that he has no choice but to obey.
If you run into problems and Buddy just won’t obey, seek the services of a professional dog trainer. It may cost a bit, but a professional will be able to point out where you’re going wrong. It’s well worth the expense to know that Buddy will respond to your commands. This ensures that he will always be safe, so you can enjoy each others company for many years to come.