A well-trained dog is, ultimately, a happy dog. While it can be fun to teach your dog to perform tricks like “beg” or “shake hands”, there are some much more important basic lifestyle lessons that every dog should learn in order to be socialised and to be well adjusted to our society. One of the most important lessons is undoubtedly the recall command.
Of all commands an owner can teach their dog, recall, or coming when called, is not only a very important lesson for your dog to learn and adhere to; it is also frequently the most difficult command to train consistently.
The benefits of a dog having reliable recall cannot be understated. Knowing your dog will always return to you when commanded is not simply for your convenience; it is imperative to the safety of your dog, other dogs, animals, and people.
Why is recall obedience so difficult to effectively train? It’s a similar scenario as when a child is out playing. Some are more inclined than others to come when called. Some are not inclined to cooperate at all. They are free and having fun, with exciting things to see and do, exciting new friends to play with, and interesting things to explore. Mum or dad calls them to come back. Who wants to do that and miss out on any of the fun? It’s exactly the same for your dog – especially if Fido isn’t allowed out frequently. It’s perfectly understandable that you may be ignored – the end result of returning to you is that the leash goes back on and the fun is over. Some dogs will eventually return to their owner; others will do anything to avoid being back on the lead.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to chase and catch a dog that is purposely avoiding being caught. This may be comedic the first time, but for owners, the novelty wears off very quickly.
A dog that reliably obeys the recall command, and responds promptly and consistently, will enjoy much more freedom: playing with other dogs, walking off-leash, and keeping out of trouble. Even if you never intentionally allow your dog off leash, sometimes the unexpected can happen: broken collars or open gates, for example. A reliable and fast response to the recall command may save your dog’s life.
Ultimately, your dog needs to know, that whenever you use the recall command, coming back to you always has a positive outcome for him/her. Effective recall training will set your dog up for success in other areas of obedience training – which is win-win for all. A well trained dog will fit in much more successfully at day care, play time, and at home as well.
Next week we will address exactly how to effectively train the recall in your dog.