What is Recall in Dog Training?

Are you having a hard time with your dog being too ‘stubborn’ and not coming towards you when called? Does your dog take off as soon as the door is opened and seem to ignore you no matter how you try to get its attention?

We understand your frustration, and trust us when we tell you that it has happened to ALL dog owners! Learning to come when called or the recall is one of the most important skills your dog must learn.

In this article, we’ll discuss in greater detail what recall is in dog training and share some tips to help your dog learn this.

What Does Reliable Recall Mean?

You might have heard the phrase “reliable recall” from dog trainers, but what does this actually mean?

Reliable recall means that when you call your dog to come, there is a high chance that it will respond positively towards your command. Of course, dogs are not machines, which is why there’s no guarantee that they will follow your cue without fail.

However, properly training your dog for the recall skill can help them become more consistent. This skill is especially important if you want to allow your dog to run without a leash such as in a dog park or outside your yard. Most importantly, reliable recall is a life-saving skill that can protect your dog in the event of an emergency or an impending danger. 

However, training your dog for recall is easier said than done. They are curious creatures that find so much of the world interesting. So when we call our dog to come to us, we are asking them to stop and turn away from the interesting things they encounter in the new environment. 

With this, in order to successfully train your dog for the recall skill, you need to make it a fun and rewarding thing.

How to Teach Recall in Dog Training

Below are some tips to teach your dog the recall skill effectively:

  • Start your training in an environment that is free from distractions such as a room in your house. Next, you can show your dog a treat or its favorite toy, praise it as it’s coming towards you, and then give it the reward. After several repetitions, add in your chosen verbal cue such as ‘here’ or ‘come’ whenever it looks at you and comes to you. 
  • Later on, try to ask your dog to come to you before showing it the reward. However, when you do this, it’s recommended to choose a high-value treat such as a piece of chicken or cheese. Also, you can up the ante by increasing the distance and training your dog in a low-distraction environment. 
  • One of the most common recall training mistakes is teaching recall, immediately putting its leash on, and then going home. The problem with this is that your dog will likely associate the recall command as a sign that the fun is over and will have a negative association with it.
  • Don’t poison the cue by repeating the word over and over without your dog responding because the cue is unclear or your dog intentionally ignores it because it has a negative association with it. So when this happens, the best thing to do is to change your verbal cue into something new. For example, if you normally use the word ‘come’, you can try shifting to the command ‘here’. However, when you do change your cue, it is recommended to go back to basics.
  • Constant practice is key. Try to train your dog on a daily basis, but within short intervals of a few minutes each time. This is because dogs generally have a short attention span.
  • Each dog learns at its own pace. So don’t move too quickly, and follow your dog’s pace. Slowly increase the distance, the difficulty, and level of distraction in the training environment. Rushing to make progress will only confuse your dog and may lead to less reliability of its recall skill.
  • Hire a professional dog trainer. Let’s face it, not all of us have the time, patience, or skill to train our dog. Experienced dog trainers have the tools, knowledge, and best practices that can help your dog learn the recall skill faster and with much greater reliability.

Final Thoughts

Even dogs seem to have a rebellious adolescent stage. This, combined with their innate curiosity, make the recall skill one of the hardest to teach your dog. 

So if you’re struggling to train your dog, the most practical and convenient approach is to hire a professional dog trainer such as Delaware K9 Academy. From private lessons and puppy training to 2-week boot camps, they surely offer something that suits your goals. 

So check them out and find out more about how they can help you.