Following on from our previous blog posts regarding the importance of recall training, and the basics of “how-to” train your dog for reliable recall, here are some simple tips and guidelines to follow. These will help ensure your dog’s recall remains reliable and successful.
• Have realistic expectations. Even the most well-trained, well behaved dog will not be one hundred percent reliable at coming when called one hundred percent of the time. Dogs are not robots! They are sentient beings just like humans, have their good and bad days, and have differing moods. Sometimes they might not hear the call, sometimes their attention is focused elsewhere, and sometimes they just don’t feel like cooperating.
• Trainability can be breed-dependent. For example, hounds can be relatively very difficult to teach. Scent hounds, like beagles, are so distracted by smells that they may be oblivious to you calling them. Sight-hounds, like whippets and greyhounds, are not generally food or toy motivated; they require special incentives like fast-moving furry toys or amazing treats. Training these kinds of breeds requires more patience and persistence.
• Be clear in your expectations. The goal of training your dog is to make sure he knows exactly what you want him to do every time you make a command. YOU must be consistent if you expect consistency from your dog. Make sure all human family members are on board – great training can be undone completely by a human family member who doesn’t play the same game by the same rules. The training will fail and your dog will become confused.
• Your Recall Command Must Be Appealing. Your dog needs to know that obeying you means something wonderful for him is about to happen – every time. He must never come to believe obedience to you is optional.
• Always reward obedience. Offer praise and plenty of attention every time he obeys. If you’re at an off lead park, and he comes when you call, let him go play for another few minutes as a reward.
• Never physically punish a dog for non-compliance. Never. Ever.
• Use a happy tone of voice when recalling your dog. If your tone is fearful or angry, he will become fearful as well – and possibly not want to come. Would you go to mum or dad if you knew you were in trouble?
• Be realistic in certain circumstances. If you are in a situation when you strongly suspect your dog won’t obey (e.g. when playing with her best pooch pal; a Beagle on an intense sniffing mission), don’t even bother to call – there is little point giving him practice at ignoring you. Simply go to him and snap on his leash.
• Never recall your dog for something they dislike. If a dog comes to associate the recall command with nail clipping, bathing, being scolded, or even ignored, it will ultimately fail.
Reinforcement is imperative. Training takes time. It is an ongoing process, even once it has been successfully achieved. The recall command takes longer to ingrain than any other – yet it is the most important thing you will ever teach your dog. Responding reliably to “Come” or “Here” may one day save your dog’s life.