Why teach recall?
The recall command will be one of the most important things you can teach your dog. It can literally be a life saving command if your dog ever gets out. You want to be able to call them, have them come and also check in by sitting at your feet. Many commands take a couple of weeks for dogs to learn like the sit or down commands so you might expect the same with recall but this one can take a few months of work to perfect.
Work on recall every single day just like you would any other command.
Where should you start?
Start out where there are as little distractions as possible like inside of your home! Even inside, make sure to get your dog's attention first. I like to start close to the dog and then take a few steps backwards, this makes it fun and inviting...all dogs will immediately want to move with you.
Call your dog's name, once you have their attention, say your recall command like "come" or "here" and as you're moving backwards and your dog is running to you praise them!!! This tells your dog they are doing the right thing and it makes it fun, giving your dog that feedback keeps them connected. After your dog comes to you, ask for a sit, praise and reward!
It's important to ask for that sit after your dog comes to you so they know when you call them they come and they sit. A nice committed check in, otherwise some dogs like to turn it into a game and take off the other way hoping you will chase them. I like to do a jackpot of treats at the end, giving more than one treat but giving them one treat at a time. Between the movement, the praise and the jackpot of treats it truly is the most fun thing to come to you!
Things you should NOT do when teaching recall
Do not pair anything your dog might view as negative with recall. Sometimes we might not even think about it but do you call your dog over and then put them in the crate and leave? They will think there is no way I want you to go so I will not come to you. Or maybe you're about to give them that bath they don't love, once again we are pairing something negative with recall. If there is something your dog might view as negative, work on positive associations with those first. rather than pairing it with coming to you.
Maybe you have an outdoor space or a fenced in yard in which your dog loves being, then you call them and they have to go inside, before you know it you have to chase your dog around the yard to get them to come to you.
Instead work on recall in the yard rewarding your dog then letting them stay there longer, repeat, repeat and repeat.
What about distractions?
When you are taking recall to the next level and starting to practice outside, do it on a leash, even their regular 6ft leash and use higher value treats. If the area where you are practicing is fenced in and you want to practice off leash make sure you can get their attention first, if you cannot get your dog's attention practice on leash in the beginning. Distractions are not just noises, people, other animals, a squirrel or a bird but can definitely be some really great smells that caught their nose.
Once your dog gets better with recall outside on their regular leash, get a 15-20ft long line. Just slowly add more distance, you might only give them a few ft of leash initially and you're holding the rest. As they get better they can be further from you.
Anytime there are more distractions make sure to start your dog out much closer to you.
Which treats should you use?
When working inside you can use any treats your dog likes, sometimes just buying a new flavor makes the treat so much more exciting. Whenever there are more distractions use better treats.
I like to use A+ treats around distractions, here's a list of my favorites. In the 13 years of being a dog trainer boiled chicken always tops the list.
- Boiled chicken
- Fresh or frozen to cook when needed
- Small Batch freeze dried patties
- Stella & Chewy's freeze dried dinner patties or meal mixers
- Sojo's freeze dried treats
- Pure Bites liver or chicken
- Regular or salmon cream cheese or low lactose cream cheese
- Vital Essentials freeze dried meat treats
- Open Farm freeze dried raw & treats
We definitely need to practice with Selena. Thanks for the tips.