If you’ve got a dog who would rather ignore you and wander off than stay nearby, then recall training can be quite frustrating. Some dogs never leave their owner’s side, and will follow them wherever they go, but some pooches have other ideas.
Plus, certain breeds struggle with recall more than most, either because they have a high prey drive (i.e. huskies), or can’t help but follow their nose (i.e. hounds). If your dog is struggling with recall, or you are teaching it for the first time, here are some super handy tips that you might not know about.
- Tug toys can help
Does your dog love a good tug of war? If they aren’t responding that well to treats when doing recall training, try using their favourite toy, like a tug of war toy instead. This can be their reward, when they come back to you they get to enjoy a brief game of tug of war.
- Make yourself more interesting
Part of the reason dogs wander off is because being around their owner gets a bit boring, and there are far more interesting things to discover elsewhere. If you want your dog to come back to you, or learn that being around you is fun, try and do things to entertain them. Don’t just stand around texting on your phone while they run about. Try throwing a ball for them and playing a game of fetch, or play a follow the leader or game of hide and seek.
- Try renting an enclosed field
Did you know the UK has plenty of private fields which can be rented out by dog owners who need an enclosed area? You just need to find one near you. They aren’t that expensive, and tend to be around £10 an hour to hire. This provides a safe place for you to practice your recall with Fido, and enable them to burn off some energy. Try this website which lists dog walking fields in the UK.
- Having other dogs around helps
If you are letting your dog off the lead for the first time, it’s better to do it with other dogs around. Why? Because your dog is more likely to stick around and have fun with the pack. They will see that other dogs are staying near and will hopefully decide to do the same.
- Don’t bark commands too many times
Don’t shout ‘come’ over and over again when your dog doesn’t come back, as the word will lose its meaning. You want your dog to learn that they should come back as soon as you say the word once, not after four or five times. If they don’t come back and are ignoring you, go and get them rather than yelling at them.
- Enthusiasm is key
You need to teach your dog that coming back to you is the best thing ever, and that won’t work if you don’t seem that bothered when they do. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself in front of fellow dog owners, if your dog comes back, give them loads of praise in a super enthusiastic tone.
- Recall in and around the home
If you are really struggling with recall out and about where’s there’s loads of distractions, go back to basics. Try doing some recall in your house where your dog will be more responsive. Then once they master perfect recall at home, you can try them outside again (on a long lead to start with).
- Fun recall games
If you want your dog to come back to you, it’s time to make recall more fun. Playing games can really help reinforce their recall, and strengthen your bond. Recall games include things like hide and seek, and throwing treats to either side of you and getting your dog to come back to you after they retrieve them.