Teaching a Reliable Recall

A reliable recall is top of the training list for most dog owners.

A reliable recall is top of the training list for most dog owners.

A reliable recall is high on most dog owners’ wish lists, for good reason. A dog that will return when you call them is much easier to take places without it ending in frustration. Here are a few tips for teaching the all-important ‘come’ command:

Build a foundation of manners and obedience in other areas too – practicing obedience commands like sit, down, heel and staying put under distraction teaches them to focus on, and listen to you even when they’d rather do something else. This sets a good precedent for learning to return back to you, even when something more exciting is on offer.

Make the recall exciting – say the command long, loud, and happy! Praise as soon as they begin to come and make a big fuss of them when they return.

Be consistent – “come” should mean return back to my feet, as soon as I say the word – not return in five minutes, come within ten metres and disappear again, or shoot straight past me at 100 miles an hour! If you accept less than them immediately returning to your feet, they’ll realise they can push the boundaries, and will be more inclined to try pushing them even further next time.

Run in the opposite direction. This works really well for puppies, but is often surprisingly effective for adult dogs too – their natural instinct is to chase after you, and you’re also making it more exciting.

Don’t just call them for something they don’t like (like when you’re about to leave the park) - mix it up and call them randomly, praise and release them again.

Don’t give the command when you can’t reinforce it until you are pretty positive that they will listen to you, or they will learn that listening is optional. Attaching a long rope to their collar during practice sessions means you can retain control while practicing recalls from a distance.

If you would like to know more about teaching obedience under distraction, or addressing behavioural issues, these are both covered in our standard Dog and Puppy Training Packages.

Reliable Stays from a Distance - a quick tip.

A quick tip for teaching your dog a reliable 'Stay'.

When your dog is in a 'Sit' or 'Down', wait until you are back at their side to give their release command, rather than calling or releasing them from a distance. This means they will tend to settle down and wait for your return, rather than jumping at every little noise and move you make, hoping it's that magic release word. A dog's hearing tends to be very optimistic when it's a word they want to hear!

Teaching a reliable ‘stay’, especially under distraction, is great for improving your dog’s self control and reliability in different situations. It’s also useful for getting cute photos!

Rose and Soot showing off their staying power

Rose and Soot showing off their staying power

Consistency is Key for a Happy, Well-Behaved Dog

Consistency is one of the most important elements of effective dog training. Every command needs to have a consistent meaning, and every “rule” you make must be clear and consistent. Your dog needs to know what is required of them, and what the outcome of each response or behaviour will be. If this is unclear, or inconsistent, it is both confusing and leads to them pushing the boundaries of commands and rules. Every command and rule must have consistent follow-through, with a behaviour getting the same response each time. If this is maintained, your dog will know what is required of them and will feel comfortable and confident, which increases the trust they have in you.

Why We Teach Obedience and Behavioural Modification Together

We teach reliable obedience and good behaviour shaping in combination. The two work together to improve all aspects of your relationship with your dog and their reliability in listening to commands and reacting to situations. We start with the obedience training, which teaches your dog the ‘language’ of our methods, so they understand what it is all about. It also begins to teach them to listen to you when distracted, and develops their self-control. This means that when we start the good behaviour shaping, they develop a faster understanding of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours, based on the language built in the obedience part of the training.