Training Tip Thursday: Building a Reliable Recall – Tip #1

One of the most, if not the most, important obedience commands that your dog should know is the recall (“come”, “here”, etc).  For the next few weeks, I’m going to give weekly training tips on how I work with my dogs on building a reliable recall.

Recall Tip #1: Always reward your dog for coming to you, regardless of why he came and whether or not you asked him to come.

Why?  This helps teach your dog two very important things: (1) that good things happen when he comes to you and (2) that checking in with you periodically while he’s off having fun pays off.  And as an added bonus, this will teach your dog to keep an eye on you instead of you always being the one to keep an eye on him!

How do I work on this?  Even when I’m out in the yard just letting the dogs run around and play, I have a bag of treats in my pocket.  Whenever a dog comes up to me, he gets a treat.  In this particular exercise, I don’t ask him to come — I just stand and wait until he makes the decision to come up to me.  Dogs are opportunists, so they catch on to this game rather quickly [I go to mom = I get a piece of yummy cheese].  And if you dog doesn’t already, he’ll begin to associate you with all good things.  🙂

In my mind, the ideal recall is when the dog happily and enthusiastically RUNS to you.

About Kas

An occupational therapy graduate student, Virginia Tech alumna, positive-reinforcement trainer, and proud mum of 5 crazy canines.

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Training Tip Thursday and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’m really looking forward to your weekly training tips on this topic! When it comes to recall, Maple will respond for the most part… so long as there aren’t any distractions that are more captivating than her momsy. A bird, a fellow dog, a rustling leaf is all that it takes for Maple to redirect her attention away from me. She will eventually return to me after she realizes how far she has run off, but that split second of having lost control always makes me very anxious.

    I used to bring treats with me in the earlier days when I was first practicing recall with Maple, and it worked so well that I figured I could leave the treats at home. It never occurred to me always have treats on hand whenever Maple gets her off-leash playtime. And, now that I’ve found a liver cookie that Maple loves, it makes a lot of sense to stash a few in my pocket!

    • I will definitely be writing a post about my thoughts on distractions and the recall (or any training behavior) soon! I have been thinking about that for a while now. Like I mentioned, dogs are opportunists, so the key is to be more valuable than the other thing that the dog wants to go to. More to come later. 🙂 And it definitely helps to always have treats or a toy on hand!

  2. That’s a great tip. I did a bit of obedience training with Gretel and she is so food motivated she comes every time I call. She never gets a chance to get off leash but I would still like her to get used to her “checking in with me” just in case. Maybe I should practice in our back yard….next summer 🙂

    The only other tip I would add is one it took me a long time to figure out – use high value, super-irresistable treats like cheese (like you implied) or little pieces of raw hamburger. I have also seen people use hot dogs and that has worked well.

    • Definitely a good point about the treats — the higher value the treat or toy, the more valuable you are to the dog. We use the nitrates/nitrates free hot dogs often, as they are affordable and the dogs go nuts for them! String cheese is always a winner too.

  3. Great tip! My hound needs work on his recall … One sniff and he is outta here!

  4. My mommy used to do this kinda stuff with me (not with my furry sister Nala, ’cause she’s just way smart), but she stopped doing it all the time. I think it’s time to get the cheese back out of the refrigerator and into her pocket where it belongs!! 😉

    Woofs & hugs, ❤

    ~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

  5. That is a really good tip and one I used as well when the pups were youngsters.

  6. Such a great tip. Our youngest hates coming to us when we’re in the bathroom. He thinks it’s shower time and will tiptoe in if we call him there. Our closets are in there too!

  7. Great tip!

    Stop on by for a visit

  8. Kas, this is so awesome. You’ve got a great style in how you describe the tip so that we understand the importance of it and how to accomplish it easily. I am really looking forward to more of your ideas!

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