How many times do you see people at the park or woods calling a dog as the excited canine vanishes over a hill or behind a tree? There is also the angry dog owner; you know the one, shouting their pets name over and over with frustration whilst the increasingly nervous dog is becoming scared to return to his owner at all.
Some unlucky dogs are never allowed off the leash, for their entire lives, because of their owners concern about them running away. That is such a sad situation as every dog needs a run. And no animal can really stretch their muscles when tethered to a person.
Recall is one of the simplest things to teach using positive reinforcement. The reward based training method will automatically provide you with the tools you need to become the most interesting thing in the area, and of course when you are interesting your dog is more likely to come back. The idea of positive reinforcement is to reward everything that your dog does naturally in order to encourage repetition.
The age of your dog when teaching recall is not as important as his previous experience and his personality. In fact the younger your pet is the more likely he will learn to recall to a reward, which is why I cringe whenever I hear someone, say that their puppy is too young to be let off leash yet.
So there are a few rules to teaching and maintaining a great recall and here they are;
Begin easy, as in all dog training, and always set your dog up to succeed. Therefore do not simply let your dog off leash and hope for the best. Start by calling him back on leash and rewarding him when he comes, then use a longer line and call him back on that. When you are confident that your pet will come in both of those scenarios ask someone to hold him by his collar and show him the reward, go a short distance and call him for the reward.
Then you can increase the distance gradually but remember always set your dog up to come back, because if he runs away even once when called then he may learn it as a habit. You should invest in a good hardy bag for your treats and always keep it stocked up for reinforcement of recall.
The other thing you can use for good recall is a whistle. Tune your dog into the whistle by giving a short blast on it when you feed him or give him a treat. By doing this you will be teaching him that every time he hears the sound he needs to come to you for something nice.
It is important in the early stages not to call your dog if he is distracted and unlikely to respond. By calling this way you will be inadvertently teaching him to ignore your call, you can use clever thinking and each time he looks for the next thing to do or sniff call him. Give him a reward and let him go on his merry way.
A special toy can also be good for getting your dog’s attention and many people carry a ball in order to maintain control over a dog who loves to play.
The most important thing to remember with recall is to make your interaction with your dog far more interesting and exciting than anything else in the area at the same time as giving your pet his freedom and allowing him to run around when it’s safe to do so.
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