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  • Writer's pictureGeorgie Bleza

Recall Tips


Recall is probably the most important thing you can teach your dog. Until your recall is one hundred percent reliable, then your dog shouldn’t be off lead. While mistakes can always happen, it’s important you can call your dog away from people, wildlife and other dogs in order to be a responsible dog owner.

Manage your dog’s freedom

When working on recall, It’s important to limit your dog’s freedom to prevent them getting reinforced continuously when away from you. This way the reinforcement comes from you rather than elsewhere so choosing you will become the favourable option in the future.

I suggest using a long line, (a long rope or bio thane line) when managing your dogs space. I don’t advise extendable leads as they have been linked to accidents and injuries. Keep in mind that long lines need to be used with care.

  • Always use on a harness and never a collar as there is risk of injury to the neck.

  • Sighthounds tend to get to top speeds fast so longlines are not always appropriated for them.

  • Take care when using round wooded areas so your dog does not get stuck.

  • Avoid letting out fully around other dogs and people. Long lines can wrap easily round legs and cause rope burns.

  • When using your long line you need to move quickly and go with your dog.

  • When stopping your dog with your longline tap your foot on it or stop it slowly to avoid jerking your dog or you.

  • For larger, stronger dogs I suggest using gloves to protect your hands.

Minimise the chatter

As humans we tend to talk a lot and repeat things. It’s important to keep things really clear to our dogs. When building up your recall you only want to use the word when you are one hundred percent sure that your dog is going to respond. So, if they are sniffing, playing or focused on something, wait until they are finished unless it is unsafe to do so.

Then use your dogs name to get their attention. Then their recall word such as ‘come’ or ‘here’. Avoid making others sounds or words, repeating the word or your dogs name too often as this will just become background chatter to them, they will become programmed to ignore.

Make yourself the most reinforcing thing on your walk

Standing around while your dog plays with other dogs, calling your dog only when you are going to put them back on lead makes your dog not that keen to come back to you.

Keep moving on walks, it can be a nice slow stroll so your dog has plenty of time to potter and sniff but keep on the move so your dog has to keep any eye on where you are going. Make yourself the most interesting thing in the park.

  • Every time your dog checks in with you (offers eye contact) reward them.

  • Call them back every now and then and play find it by scattering treats or hiding them round logs.

  • Do a few tricks, show them a new place to explore.

  • Bring out a chew or new toy to enjoy (when there are no other dogs around).

  • Have a picnic that you can both share.

  • Call them back just for a game of tug, or to have a handful of treats, then let them go back to what they are doing.

Here are some steps to build up your recall word

In the home drop treat, say ‘come’ run off, drop treat, say ‘come’, run off, drop treat say ‘come’

Repeat above in garden/quiet green space

Repeat in an area with more distractions

With two people

In the home one of you say your dogs name and ‘come,’ reward. Then the other person has a go

Repeat above in garden/quiet green space

Repeat in an area with more distractions such as the park

Top tips for recall: mix up the timings of your treats, sometimes give two, sometimes three, sometimes one. This stops your dog always expecting one treat, grabbing it and running off.

Don’t just use recall to end the fun (walks over, back on lead). Call them over for a game of tug, to find treats scattered in the grass, or just to get a selection of tasty goodies.

Once you and your dog are more confident you can play hide and seek games behind trees. Always make sure you can see your dog and watch they don’t get too worried. Keep it easy initially.

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