Have you ever been out with your dog and called ‘come, come, COME!’ repeatedly while your dog is too busy sniffing a blade of grass to acknowledge you? Haven’t we all! In this blog you’re going to find out how to make your dog WANT to run back to you instantly.
Firstly, when training recall, ensure you have a high value reward ready. What I mean by that is a treat that is more rewarding than all other treats. If you usually use your dog’s regular food as a treat while on a walk, change it to something more enticing like chicken, sausage or fish (my personal favourite as the smell alone will help).
Secondly, make recalls FUN! There isn’t a trick here, simply make your dog want to engage in recall training because it’s so exciting to come running back to you that they can’t resist. The reward your dog gets after they come back to you should be the high value treat, but also lots of verbal and physical praise, sound excited!
One great game you can play with your dog to enhance their recall is hiding slightly out of sight (although ideally you should still be able to see them) and then give your recall command. Remember how fun it was as a child to play ‘hide and seek’, well that’s the same feeling your dog will have when they find you, their favourite person. This is also fun with two people, if you and a friend/partner are walking, try intensifying this a little by getting the second person to hide immediately after your dog has found you and tag-team! This will keep your dog’s focus on the game of recalling. Always use the same command as to not confuse your dog, so if you use ‘come’ so should the second person.
Another way to excite your dog during a recall is to run the other way, your dog will naturally be intrigued and want to follow you, especially with the change of pace. Reward your dog as soon as they get to you.
Once your dog has learned to recall well, start changing what you want from them when they get to you. You can ask them to sit right in front of you as the default recall and for this no change of command is needed, simply ‘come’. An alternative ending to their recall could be that you ask them to come to heel, by using the ‘heel’ command as they get close to you. One way for your dog to get into the heel position is to walk/run around you and sit next to your leg. The more fun way is to open your legs wide enough for your dog to go through (depending on your dog’s size this may be more challenging) and let them go through your legs and then turn into the heel position from behind you – for this I use the command ‘under’ as they approach. Both ways are easy to train with some treats to lure them into the position you want, rewarding them when they do so. This will keep your dog on their toes!