Oh look – a dog, a bird, a leaf, fox poo, a person (haven’t seen one of those for at least 3 seconds!), a mouldy old pizza crust (true story)! With so many distractions, no wonder recall can be frustrating.
Every dog, no matter what size, shape, age or temperament needs to come back when called. It’s a matter of safety for the dog and peace of mind for you. Sadly, this is something many owners struggle with. Whether your dog is reactive or distracted, if they don’t have a reliable recall, it’s a problem.
Training recall can be overwhelming – so let’s make it fun by playing recall games. Playing helps build enthusiasm and this is something we need a lot of when it comes to recall! One of the best ways to improve recall is to play recall games. Here’s one just for you!
Good for small spaces so perfect for practicing at home or in your garden.
1. Start with your dog next to you and say your recall word. I use ‘Come!’ Put a treat down on the ground for your dog to eat.
2. While they are eating, move a few feet away and when they finish eating shout ‘Come!’ again. When they reach you say ‘good’ or ‘yes’ and put another piece of food on the ground.
3. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Start in a low-distraction environment first and build up slowly. By practicing lots in quiet areas, you have a better chance of success in a real-life recall situation. I used to do this at the start of every off-lead walk with Fifi as it really got her focusing on me when i did let her off.
If your dog doesn’t see the food go down on the floor, slow down and show them that you have food in your hand, letting them see you put it down.
For dogs that gobble the treat before you’ve had chance to move away, scatter a few treats on the ground to buy yourself more time or go outside onto the grass. it will take them longer to eat the treats from grass than on an indoor floor.
Toy-motivated dogs – when they reach you, have a game of tug. Then swap the toy for some scattered treats so that you can take the toy and move to your next position.
Make it more exciting!
Run a few metres away from your dog and then call them. They should sprint towards you! When they get close enough, throw a treat out and then run away from them to do the same again. Dogs who love to chase will find this game very rewarding.