Category Archives: Training Tip Thursday
Only recall your dog when you are absolutely certain that he will come to you.
Why? You always want to set your dog up for success. Do not give your dog the chance or option to fail — any time that he ignores and/or chooses not to respond to a command, that command and it’s meaning are devalued.
If you know that your dog would rather chase a squirrel than come to you when called, do not recall him. Either go to him and retrieve him or wait until he has had his fun, has calmed down, and is focused back on you and then recall him. The secret to a reliable recall is successful repetition, so do everything on your end to help your dog succeed.
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!!!!!”
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.
Recall Tip #2: Never call your dog to you for something that he does not want to do, such as clipping nails.
Why? You want your dog to learn that good things happen when he comes to you. If at times you call your dog to you in order to do unpleasant things that he does not enjoy doing, he is going to think, “Hmmm … if I go to her this time, am I going to get a yummy piece of cheese or is she going to stick me in the bathtub and give me a dreaded bath?” If you have to do something that your dog does not want to do, simply go put a leash on him or pick him up (and don’t say anything to him). The key with building a reliable recall is teaching the dog that coming when called results in good things, that coming when called reaps valuable rewards. Stay tuned for next week’s tip! 🙂
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. 🙂