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Total Recall

Achieving the perfect dog recall

In an ideal world, when the dog hears the words come!” he or she should stop what he is doing and run back toward you.Unfortunately, not many dogs think the command to come is an exciting enough for them to come away from playing with other dogs or exploring. They may have perfect recall as a puppy but three months down the line this frustrating and dangerous behavior start to rear its head. In order to figure out why this behavior is so common, we need to consider what “come” means to the dog.

Does it mean that you are about to do something unpleasant but necessary to the dog? This includes giving them a pill, popping him in the bath, or restricting his freedom by putting back on the lead on the walk. Never use the come command for what your dog see’s as a negative, go and get them without a command if what follows isn’t particularly rewarding for them. Don’t warn them that he won’t like what follows.

Does “come” mean the end of a good time to your dog? It will, if the only time you call your dog is to come into the house or to leave the park, to be honest why would they comply? However, if you begin to call them randomly during a walk, give a fuss or treat and send them off again, they learn that obeying the command most likely will be beneficial to them.

Most dog owners think that just by calling their dog it will comply every single time, when in fact they are not consistent about making the dog comply. Until the dog has been trained to a reliable standard under many circumstances, environment, distraction, and distance from you, they should not be expected to come when called. You should be looking to use a standard lead or long line, this way your dog can be reeled in and made to comply. If these are not being used and you dog cannot be made to comply then the recall command should not be used. The reason is your dog will start to think that “come” is a multiple-choice.

Begin with the dog on a six-foot lead. Let him get interested in something and then call their name, using an upbeat, excited voice while walking backward away from them. As you are walking away, hold a treat at the dog’s nose level to activate their sensory system and lure them toward you. When the dog is a few steps away, raise the treat up a bit while telling the dog to sit. Reach out, grab their collar, and reward them with the treat.

When your dog has achieved this command to come when asked, then move on to using a 15-to-30-foot line. As the recall improves, there will be no need to run backward or give a treat every time, but the command itself always should sound upbeat and welcoming to the dog. When you get 100% compliance using a long line, begin off-lead training, always use non-populated areas and if you can use a secure area. If the dog begins to ignore you again, just take a step backward and use the line again to get compliance.

One of the crucial components to a total recall is a strong bond with your dog. You have to encourage your dog to frequently check back with you whether they are on leash or off lead. Reward them every single time they do this even if it’s with no more than verbal recognition. A great way to encourage this behavior is to disappear from your dog behind a tree or bush and make them seek you out.

Remember you have to make sure your dog understands that being off lead is a privilege; they have been given this permission to run off lead by the Leader. If your dog see’s you as the Leader we can end the fun when we choose and they will not question you. Above all be persistent when teaching this command. The perfect recall will not only get enjoyable, calm walks, but it may also one day save your dog’s life.