We all love it when our dog comes first time (I call this the recall) but it doesn’t always happen that way and it doesn’t happen overnight. To develop an amazing recall where you can call your dog from extremely long distances, or off a high speed chase takes time, a strong bond and a dog that really listens and does what you say even though sometimes it would rather do something different.
I am proud to say that I have called my dog off a high speed chase when she caught sight of a bunny and bolted. On my call she stopped, turned and came straight to me. And as you can see in the video above, I’ve called them from the neighbors yard. This is something to aim for and with everything, practice makes perfect!
A few things to consider about the Recall outside the house
Check the basics first:
- You must have established yourself as pack leader using the 5 Golden Rules.
- Your dog should be walking well on the leash, no pulling
- You should have established great recall around the house first
When progressing to outside follow these principles as much as you can to start with:
- Use a long line – make sure it is strong and long
- Preparation – arm yourself with the most amazing treats, and some average treats, maybe some of his dinner
- Train before dinner – if your dog is hungry then he will be very responsive to food rewards!
- Use a treat bag such as bumbag or a fanny pack – at least make sure that your dog knows what the rewards are if he plays his cards right today!
- Use the best treats at the beginning of the training – get your dog excited at the first recall
- Start in an area where there is the least distraction – do not go straight down to the place where the rabbits are!
- Remember the step by step approach – you will get to where you want to be but not by rushing
- Always maintain control – keep your dog on the long line until you are sure he will return
- Keep the end of the long line within reach – you must be able to stand on the long line at all times
- Call and move away – practice calling your dog and moving away from your dog so he is more likely to run towards you than if you call and move towards him
Key points to think about
- What your praise is worth – you decide the value of your own affection, pats, cuddles and praise. Does your dog just get it for free?
- Everything on your terms – never give your dog a pat, cuddle or affection on its terms or you are making it worthless in your dog’s eyes.
- The recall starts at home – calling your dog around the house is the start of the recall
- Call your dog once – never call your dog lots of times, make sure that your dog has heard, then treat or ignore
- Encourage – you can encourage your dog to keep coming by saying the words, “good girl, good girl” in a high energy voice
- Use a gentle voice – your voice should be soft, gentle and encouraging. Not threatening. The quote, by horse whisperer Monty Roberts, sums it up: “Use as little as possible, but as much as necessary”. You can always use a more commanding voice when you need to outside, off leash
- Motivate your dog – find out what your dog loves and start by using this
- Practice training before dinner – this way your dog is hungry and very motivated
- Use some of your dogs dinner to train – just take it out of the portion he receives for his dinner so he is not over fed