Calling your dog and knowing they will come back 100% of the time will allow you to walk with your doggo off leash and play in the dog park worry-free. Find out our tips on how to teach recall.
Make it worth it!
There are SO many distractions in the big wide world; an abundance of things to sniff, chase and pee on. You’ve got to make coming back to you worth it from the very start. Whatever you’re offering as a reward needs to be more interesting than all the sights and smells surrounding your dog. You know your dog best so think about what will work for them. Fill a pocket with your dog’s all time favourite treats or if they’re toy-obsessed, pack a couple of the ones they can’t resist.
Good vibes only
You want to teach your pooch that when they come back to you, nice things happen. Don’t call your dog to you to scold him or her. If you do this, you’ll find they’re much less likely to respond to you in future. No matter what they were doing to make you call them over to you – chasing or sniffing something they shouldn’t, getting too close to a dangerous area etc – at the end of the day, they listened and obeyed and came to your side. That deserves praise, pats and rewards.
Begin with the basics
Don’t take your doggo down to the local dog park to start his training. You’re only setting him (and you!) up for failure. Start at home in a familiar room and practice calling him to you. Every time he does, reward with a treat. Build this up to you being further and further from your dog, until you’re at the point where you can be in the other side of the house, where he can’t see you, and he comes to you when called.If you’ve got a yard, practice out there too before you head out in public. Repeat, repeat, repeat until he comes every single time. Only then are you ready to step it up a level…
The big wide world
Repeat the same exercise as before in an outdoor area with minimal distractions. A quiet area of your local park will work well! If your dog is prone to run away, you can start by using a recall leash so you can move away from your dog without pulling them with you. Let your dog mooch around, back away a few metres, call and reward. Increase the distance between you gradually until he comes to you every single time, no matter how far you go. This is not an overnight trick, you will need to practice again and again in as many different locations as possible.
So your dog can now come to you reliably inside and outside, when there’s limited distractions. Before you’re safe to let him off the leash, you need to step up the training. Recruit some family or friends to join you and distract your dog. Don’t make them call them to him, but ask them to walk nearby, make noises and maybe even bring their own dog down as a distraction. Step it up bit by bit and reward, reward, reward.
If your dog ignores you during training, don’t keep on shouting him over and over again and don’t chase or go up to him. Wait until he is less distracted and try again. If he continues to ignore you over time, you may need to reconsider the reward you’re offering and whether you need to step it up!