How To Improve Your Dog’s Recall: Training for a reliable recall and emergency recalls

Featuring Jen Larson, KPA-CTP & Courtney Emken
Concept by Courtney Emken

 


“Recall” is your dog’s ability to come consistently when called. Recall is not a natural behavior for dogs. It is something that we have to teach and practice and really reinforce and reward. Let us show you some pro tips, fun games, and helpful exercises that will help you train your dog to have a more reliable recall.


Transcript:

Jen:
So recall is coming consistently when called. Recall’s not a natural behavior for dogs. It’s something that we have to teach and practice and really reinforce and reward. So some important elements of teaching a recall. Thinking about your body position, if you’re facing the dog directly, reaching up towards them, moving towards them. All of those postures can be considered intimidating for dogs, and they’re less likely to come to you if you’re doing those things. If you instead turn to the side, crouch down, moved away from the dog. The dog is more likely to feel comfortable about approaching you. So another important element of training recall is sound. We can use sound to our advantage when we’re training. So high-pitched staccato sounds are more likely to make an animal want to come to you. The emergency recall I use for my dog is pup, pup, pup, pup. So high-pitched staccato sounds are more likely to make an animal want to come to you. Lower-pitched slower sounds make an animal want to stop or slow down. So you can think of when you’re working with a horse, telling them whoa.

Courtney:
So I think tone is also really important and I know back before we knew what we were doing with dogs we had a dog named Chelsea who would get out of the front yard all the time. And she was close to a busy street and I was so worried that she was gonna get hit by a car that I was standing out in the street going Chelsea, you get back here! No, bad dog! You know, and that’s, I mean no dog is gonna wanna come if they hear that tone of voice.

Jen:
One more thing to think about when you’re training a recall is the kind of cue that you’re using. Is it something the dog can hear well? Is it something that sounds like another type of cue? You want to make sure that your dog can distinguish it from other cues and that they know what it means. So pairing the cue with the behavior, making sure that they understand what you’re asking them for.

Courtney:
So games, tell me about some games you can play.

Jen:
Yeah, so one of my favorite things about teaching recall is that the best way to train it is just through fun games and exercises where you’re playing with your dog and you’re really making the recall rewarding, fun training experience for them. So what I always recommend starting off with is a really simple little game called toss the treat, where you’re just in a low distraction environment with your dog and you’ve got some pretty high-value treats or rewards and you’re tossing that out. The dog runs to get it, they finish the treat, they come back to you, you repeat. And so they get used to running out and then coming back to you. Once they’re coming back to you consistently, you can add your recall cue. So adding the cue right before they come back to you. So then they start pairing the cue with the behavior. Once you’ve got your dog’s recall cue established then you can start using it to play some other games and do some other exercises. So you’re really strengthening the recall cue in a variety of environments with different people in different types of situations. So some really fun games you can play are back and forth, where you have a partner and you start pretty close together. You’re calling the dog back and forth between you and then getting gradually farther and farther apart so the dog is running back and forth between you. Another fun game that you can play in your house is hide and seek. So have one person hold the dog, or tether the dog somehow. You go and hide and then use the dog’s recall cue to have them find you. That’s a really fun and exciting one because not only do they get rewarded with whatever high-value reward you’re using, but they also get to find you and they’re real excited to find you ’cause you’re their favorite person.

Courtney:
Bonus! Yeah so one things I hear clients do all the time is, here Susie, here Susie, here, here, here, here. And they say the cue over and over and over again thinking the dog’s just not hearing it, but the truth is, it’s just like, it’s like blah blah Susie, blah blah. You know it’s like they’re not even listening.

Jen:
Right, so they’re wearing out the value of the cue. The cue is starting to lose some of its meaning for the dog. So it’s always important to not wear out your cue. If your dog is not likely to come to you in that situation use a different method. So walk over, clip a leash onto them, lure them, do something else, don’t wear out or poison their recall cue.

Courtney:
Right. And you don’t want to have their name be the cue right? Because their name is for lots of other things too. So you don’t want just calling their name to be.

Jen:
Yeah a name should be used as an attention getter so use their name to get their attention and then ask for the behavior that you want.

Courtney:
So speaking of poisoning a cue that’s why we never punish when a dog comes to us. So learning from my first dog before we had dogs and knew what we were doing. We used to scold her when she came in, which made it very unlikely for her to come again. Now we have a dog that still occasionally gets out and now we make it. You know, we have a big dog party when he comes back so now he’s coming back faster and faster and faster because he knows as soon as he gets back we’re gonna be super excited to see him. And we’re gonna give him treats and praise and lots of love. Works a lot better.

By |2018-08-07T17:19:35+00:00August 8th, 2018|Dog Behavior, Dog Safety, Dog Training|0 Comments

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