Why Recall Doesn’t Work

Recall is a cue that can be very scary for some of us, it is a fear of potentially loosing our dogs into the massive woodland and never seeing them again. Or anxiety sitting on our gut whilst our dog runs to other dogs who may or may or not be friendly.

Its like a minefield! The annoying thing is that our dogs are the most well-behaved dogs in the world when they are indoors, but as soon as we are outside it is as if we don’t exist. Constantly bellowing ‘here’ or going through a list of words in the hope that our dog will respond.

Here’s the TRUTH: Dog’s won’t respond to recall because they don’t like (well they might), but it is because the thing they are doing when they aren’t responding is TEN times more fun and enjoyable.

This can be chasing squirrels, playing with dogs, meeting people or sniffing and tracking scents.

When we get a puppy, the recall training consists of providing a treat when they come to us, and to a puppy who hasn’t quite found his feet yet its the best thing ever. What happens when the puppy finds doesn’t come back to us and instead chases another dog?

lets think about this….

Imagine something you really LOVE to do, exercise, cooking, reading…

For example, i love to eat creams teas.  I receive a massive rush of happiness when i spread the jam and clotted cream over the scone,  followed by the heaven sensation in my taste buds, it provides me with a hormone release of endorphins make me feel amazing and happy.

Then imagine  a friend calling you, informing you to stop what you are doing and go to them. Rude right?

Why would i leave my delicious cream team to follow orders off my friend, who feels like miles away.  Although, i probably would run over after a couple of minutes out of guilt.

Its a similar question to be asking ourselves about training recall, why would are dogs stop something amazing to come back to us? If my friend offered me a boring digestive biscuit, i still wouldn’t come- why? because cream teas are way tastier to me- i would take the digestive biscuit afterwards though ?

And for some of you, you may not be imagining food, you maybe imagining doing a sport or lying on a sun bed with Spanish sun heating your skin- what would MOTIVATE you to respond to that friend?

Go back to imagining your favourite thing to do, for me i am still eating cream teas

This time when your friend calls you, they are going to GIVE you the thing your imagining. MY friend is offering me THREE cream teas that are freshly baked with homemade jam an cream – OF COURSE i am going to run to her, no doubt about it.

This is the same process for our dogs.

Cream teas are all very well but how does this apply to dog training?

Understanding what motivates your dog and what they LOVE to do is how you build a  stress-free, fear-free and anxiety-free recall.

If your dog loves to chase, then incorporate chase into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to play, then incorporate play into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to eat, then incorporate food games into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to herd, then incorporate herd games into your recall cue.

If your dog loves to sniff, then incorporate sniffing games into your recall cue.

Some dogs enjoy all of those, which means you will need  incorporate all of them or finding your dog’s absolute favourite and these will change, so don’t panic if your dog decides to chase one day but wants food the next. When we apply these ‘dog loves’ into our recall training then our dogs will be sprinting to us back like a mouse to its hole.

ALTHOUGH this sounds simple, there are few things to also incorporate and here are my five top recommendations.

Kayleigh’s Five Recommendations…

  1. Use a long line lead (15 metres) when training recall, this prevents the dog running off to experience the listed ‘dog loves’ and gives you control to provide them yourself.
  2. Take a rucksack and make sure its prepared before training, being prepared is key! In this rucksack you will have dog treats that the dog back flips for, a long line lead, a whistle (if that’s the recall you want your dog to respond to) and any games to motivate your dog, e.g ball, flirt pole, tug of war or a box of scents!
  3. Start training in a place with low distractions and a lot of space, dogs are unable to focus in highly distracted places, so your local dog park may not be appropriate but perhaps a field via footpath or hiring a local exercise field.
  4. Find a unique recall cue, this needs be something that no-one else is using and you feel comfortable shouting. ideally, you want to be able to shout this in a high pitch tone as this travels better across long distances- perfect for those sniffers and trackers!
  5. Seek help and advice, if you are unsure how to even get started or don’t understand your dog’s motivation then seek your local dog trainer and they can support you through the initial stages.
  6. LAST ONE, i nearly forgot- HAVE FUN! Dogs love to play games and always seeks positivity – so if anything, make sure you enjoy training as much as your dog!

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