Training Tip Thursday: Building a Reliable Recall – Tip #3

Recall your dog once, and only once.

Why?  If you issue the recall (or any command) multiple times, the dog is going to learn that he does not really need to listen to you the first time.

I like to give the following scenario to help explain this recall rule:

  • Mom: “Johnny, dinner is ready.  Come downstairs.”
  • Child: “Ok, mom.  Be down there in a sec.”
  • ……………
  • Mom: “Johnny, dinner is getting cold.  Come down here, NOW.”
  • Child: “Alright, mom!”
  • ……………
  • Mom: “JOHNNY BOBBY SMITH, YOU COME DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT!”
  • Child: “Ah ok, mom!!  I’m coming!!”

So what did the child learn?  He can technically ignore his mom’s first two commands, as she did not really mean it until she called him the third time.  This is the same exact situation we often place ourselves in with our dogs — instead of teaching them that they need to respond to the first “come”, we inadvertently condition them to respond to the second, third, or fourth “come”.

And along with issuing the command just once, try to use an even, steady tone of voice each and every time you recall your dog.  Dogs are exceptionally brilliant when it comes to reading our emotions – “Bella, come.” is going to sound much different than, “Bella, COME.” or “BELLA, COME!!!!!

Happy training, everyone!  🙂

And make sure to check out next week’s Training Tip Thursday to see what I do when one of my pups does not respond (!) to the recall command.

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About Kas

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

Posted on January 12, 2012, in Training Tip Thursday and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Love these tips .. Very helpful 🙂

  2. Great analogy! I’m guilty of repeat recalls, and with each subsequent recall my voice gets more shrill and more anxious… By then, I’ve already lost all control. I’m eager to read what you have in store for next week’s training tip–it’ll be something I need to learn for sure!

  3. I find myself repeating commands even though I know I’m not supposed to! Ugh! Thanks for the reminder and looking forward to the tip.

  4. great tip! Now if only I could convince the rest of my family to use it!

  5. Good advice and look at that tongue!

  6. Good tip. I guess we will be dusting all of these off to use on our new pup. 🙂

  7. Woof! Woof! Wish you luck on your training. Happy BLOG HOP Weekend. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  8. Hi Y’all,

    So true. My Human sometimes repeats but I always get a reprimand just before the repeated command.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  9. Mom HATES to repeat, but sometimes she does. She knows. Once is enough. So, I just ignore her……

  10. Good tip! I see dogs being told to “sit” repeatedly-probably a difficult (but important!) habit to break!

  11. I love your tips, they’re so helpful! “Come” is the one command we’ve never been able to get Daisy to obey; in fact, sometimes she runs in the opposite direction! I’m looking forward to your next post on what you do when the dog doesn’t listen to the “come” command. Thanks for these tips!

  12. Uh oh,

    You mean I need to come the first time they call me, not when I’m done playing? This is gonna change everything!! Tee Hee

    Have a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

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