Teaching your dog good recall is one of the most important skills you can develop with your dog. It will keep your dog safe and can strengthen the bond between dog and owner.
1. High Value Treats
First thing first: treats! Not just your regular kibble, but something really exciting. Shredded chicken breast, dried beef liver, dehydrated sweet potato, flaked salmon or even banana! Whatever you choose, your dog needs to go crazy for it. This needs to be more rewarding than any smell, any dog or any possible distraction they could encounter on a walk so they will always come back for it. This is the foundation of any successful recall training.
2. Long Lead
If you have a dog (particularly hounds) who seems to go deaf at first whiff of an interesting scent, you may want to start with a long training lead. This ensures that you have control over your dog if they do suddenly decide to ignore you. Selective hearing is a very real problem!
Consistency and patience are crucial when it comes to training your dog recall. If you think about recall training in terms of a point system, it can help you understand a dog's reason for coming back!
So, for every successful recall rewarded with treat, you earn a point in your dog's mind. For every successful recall with zero reward, you lose a point. The incentive to return has been removed and your dog will remember! The more points you have, the more value your recall will hold in your dog's mind. Consistently reward your dog and they will always choose you!
4. Don't over do it
Little and often are the words to live by when it comes to dog training. Introducing a new command in the form of a 3 hour long session is not going to provide the results you're looking for! 15 minutes a couple of times a day, with plenty of play breaks, will provide long lasting results in a matter of days.
5. Tone of voice
We've all been there. Your dog is just not paying any attention to your screams across the field as they become a speck in the distance. You're frustrated, worried and a little bit angry! But stay calm, if you sound like your dog is in for a telling off of a life time, they're not going to want to come back! Your tone of voice should sound excited, playful and positive so that they feel safe coming back to you.
Sometimes, no matter how much time you spend training your dog with the most exciting treats you can think of, your dog might never be trusted off the lead. Their hearing and sense of smell mean distractions are extremely hard for them to ignore. Go with your gut and put the safety of your dog first. Your dog can still enjoy their walks on a long training lead!
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