How I Improved My Dogs Recall | 13 Tips

How I Improved My Dogs Recall | 13 Tips

One of my proudest moments as a dog owner was when my dog stopped chasing a rabbit mid-run and came back to me instead. I was shocked! After months of consistent training, my dog chose to abandon an exciting chase and enthusiastically return to me.

It took patience and persistence, but it was so rewarding to see my hard work pay off. This article outlines how I improved my dog's recall using positive reinforcement training.

The Frustrations of Training Recall

Like many owners, I struggled with training my dog to reliably come when called. My angry yelling when she didn't listen clearly wasn't working. I had to try different methods focused on understanding canine motivation and using rewards instead of punishment.

Why Recall is Difficult to Teach

A solid recall is arguably the most vital command, yet also among the hardest to master. We unfairly expect dogs to ignore strong instincts to explore and chase. Yelling at them when they don't come destroys their desire to return to an angry owner. I had to make myself more rewarding to my dog than any distraction.

Overcoming Outdoor Excitement

Going outside is incredibly stimulating for dogs. I made sure to play with my dog beforehand to burn off excess energy that could interfere with training focus. With patience, I used rewards to teach her that coming back is always a positive choice.

Recall training is one of the most vital commands for your dog, ensuring their safety and demonstrating their obedience. Here’s how I enhanced my dog's recall and some advice for you to do the same.

1. Consistency is Key: Stick to One Command for Recall

To ensure reliability in your dog’s recall, consistently use a positive cue. Refrain from associating the recall term, like "come here", with negative experiences such as bath time or nail trimming. Reward your dog with a treat or play each time they obey, establishing a positive link with the command.

2. Progress Gradually

Recall mastery requires patience. Start training at short distances with a leash and slowly extend the range. Introduce distractions progressively, and if your dog struggles, return to an easier stage.

3. Consistent Rewards Matter

Maintain a habit of rewarding your dog whenever they obey the recall command, emphasizing their correct decision.

4. Enhance the Reward Experience

Diversify rewards to increase your dog’s enthusiasm. From treats to toys like frisbees or squeaky items, find what motivates your dog the most. Make recall training engaging by turning it into a game, such as "Puppy in the middle", where your dog is called back and forth between two people.

5. Reward During the Recall

Boost your dog's motivation by rewarding them as they approach, not just when they reach you. This technique, especially effective with distractions or longer distances, encourages consistent obedience.

6. Vary the Rewards

Rotating between treats, toys, and games will make the recall command more thrilling for your dog, increasing their eagerness to obey.

7. Utilize Release as a Reward

Once your dog obeys the recall, allowing them to resume their previous activity can be a delightful treat. Have a distinct release command to signify their freedom.

8. Never Too Early to Start

Even puppies can begin recall training. Instilling these behaviors at a young age sets a robust foundation for later stages.

9. Avoid Setting Up for Failure

Ensure your dog is well-versed in a controlled environment before challenging them in stimulating locations like parks. If they struggle, revert to a simpler phase rather than pushing them.

10. Refrain from Repetition

Overusing the recall command can weaken its efficacy. If your dog isn’t responsive, take a break and assess the situation.

11. Involve Friends and Family

The more people involved in the training using consistent positive reinforcement methods, the better. Use family and friends as controlled distractions, gradually intensifying challenges as your dog improves.

12. Avoid Punishment

Even if your dog disobeys, refrain from displaying anger or punishing them. Negative feedback can hinder progress and associate the recall command with adverse outcomes.

13. Know When to Stop

Dogs, like humans, can lose interest. Short, regular sessions are more effective than prolonged ones, preventing your dog from becoming disinterested or overwhelmed.

Recall training not only ensures your dog’s safety but also strengthens the bond between you two. Through consistent positive reinforcement and gradual challenges, your dog will master the recall in no time. Remember, patience and understanding are vital during this process. Happy training!

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