Welcome to your Really Reliable Recall module! I'm so glad you're here.
We all want our dogs to respond quickly when we call and it's got nothing to do with who's Top Dog. It's all about safety. We want to trust our dogs off-leash, to get them out of a tense situation at the park before it escalates, and to prevent them from straying too far.
The goal of this workshop is to get you there. But by "there" I don't mean that I want you to have your dog off-leash in places they shouldn't be; I mean that I want your dog spinning on a dime and running top speed towards you when you call.
You've got some work ahead of you to install this behaviour, but also to maintain it for a lifetime. It's not a freebie and it will be paid well!
Let's get started:
Gone are the days of standing and hollering "come", and expecting your dog run to you, top speed and sit at your feet. That's not realistic, nor is it fun! Our goal is to be so much fun that your dog chooses YOU over everything else. If it's not worth it for your dog, they won't come to you.
Here is what you need:
- Very, very high-value food chopped into pea-sized pieces
- Medium-value food chopped into pea-sized pieces
- *Two identical, novel tug toys or 2 novel balls that your dog LOVES
- A recall cue - a word, phrase, or distinct whistle pattern
- A treat pouch or bait bag
- A long line (20'-50', non-retractable)
- A back-clip harness
*these are optional but very helpful!
Take a moment and read these a few times to really get them engrained in your head. I'll refer back to this often.
1. Never call your dog for anything unpleasant...
...such as nail clipping, bathing, or having their leash clipped on to go home from the park. In short, anything that might give them pause the next time you call them. Only amazing things follow a recall.
2. Never call your dog if you are not 100% sure they will come
All recalls should be successful recalls. Work at your dog’s level: If they have a kindergarten-level recall, don’t give them a graduate assignment like being called away from a squirrel or from play.
3. If you call and they don't come, make it happen
Run over to them and put a treat in front of their nose, backing up as you get their attention so they follow you. Reward when you get back to a spot where they are focused on you, then release them back to their activities if it is safe.
4. Never repeat your cue
Resist the urge to call over and over and over. It only teaches your dog to tune out the cue. Call once and, if necessary, use rule 3. Make the recall happen.
5. Fabulous recalls get fabulous rewards
If you want your dog to stop whatever interesting doggie thing they are doing and come running to you, make it worthwhile. Use extra yummy treats—no dry biscuits here!—or a well-thrown ball, if that is your dog’s fancy.