How Can I Teach My Dog Perfect Recall?
Here at Fenrir, we often speak about the importance of exercise. “Tired dogs are good”, is a saying that we like to use. But how can you tire out an energetic dog if you live in an apartment, or in a small townhouse? One of the best ways to do this is by allowing them time off-leash. Watching your dog enjoy themselves by running around, and playing with other dogs, is fun for everyone involved. What to do, however, if your dog not always comes back to you when called? In this article, we show you how to get your dog to come to you every single time – even in high distraction environments.
Why Won’t My Dog Come When Called?
Young puppies usually have no resistance to following their owners around, and to coming when called. But as they hit adolescence between six and 12 months of age, most dogs start challenging their owners. Dogs that had perfect recall before suddenly ignore our cues. And if you have an adult dog that routinely disregards your calls, this behaviour has already become an ingrained habit. Essentially, your dog has learned that running loose is far more fun than returning to you.
The good news is that any dog’s bad recall-habits can be changed. And even older dogs can learn new behaviours, including returning to their handler on cue.
How To Teach Reliable Recall?
So, how can we get our dogs to come when called, no matter what is going on around them? As calm, consistent canine leaders, we can modify our dog’s habit of ignoring our calls. It may take time and patience, but it is well worth the effort. After all, everyone wants to have an obedient dog that comes to them on cue in all situations and circumstances. And here is how we can achieve perfect recall with dogs of any age.
1. Become A Calm, Consistent Canine Leader
If you are currently struggling with your dog’s frustrating habit of ignoring your commands, you are not alone – countless owners have this problem. Essentially, your dog ignoring you indicates that your leadership is broken. As harsh as it sounds, but if your dog saw you as their leader, they would come when called. And with the basis of leadership missing, there can be no strong relationship. The absence of leadership significantly weakens the bond between you and your dog. Dogs that feel strongly connected to their owners will happily return to them. Your first order of business, therefore, must be to establish calm, consistent leadership.
2. Teach A New Recall-Cue
If your dog’s recall has become unreliable, we recommend to entirely drop the cue you have been using so far: If you have been shouting: “Bosco, Come!”, or “Here!” and your dog has learned to ignore this cue, it is time to move on. You can either find an entirely new verbal cue – or switch to a dog training whistle. By ensuring this new recall signal never fails, you set your dog up to succeed. And this is crucial: Whatever you do, not once allow your dog to ignore your new recall signal! We cannot emphasise enough how important this principle is. This is why starting your training off with a good training leash is so important: The leash gives enough flex for the dog to venture off a little bit. And at the same time, it allows you to reel them in if necessary.
Having a dog with perfect recall is wonderful. And it can even save their lives at some point in the future: You might never let your dog off-leash in public – but what happens if someone leaves the garden gate open one day? If your dog runs out onto the street, they could cause an accident, and even get killed. But if you have trained perfect recall under distraction, your dog will be safe at all times. Therefore, we encourage you to put in the work, and train your dog to come when called at all times. And now, we wish you and your canine companion all the best. Enjoy teaching them impeccable recall – and let them enjoy the extra freedom such high-level obedience brings them.