Resolution #4 – I will come when called – the first time.
The dreaded recall. The #1 issue I get from clients is about the recall, or coming when called. I will provide a couple of exercises that will train for a solid recall but the reasons for a sloppy recall are primarily inconsistency with the command and unrealistic expectations for the outcome. Here are rules that must be followed, always:
1. Never, ever, punish a dog for coming when you call him. OK, he ate your shoe, so you called him and punished him when he came to you. You have some serious work to do to rectify this error. The dog is going to have a long memory for being punished for something you told him to do.
2. Never, ever, chase or try to catch your dog if he is on the run. If you must run, run away from your dog. There is a greater likelihood that he will join you in the fun.
3. Never, ever expect the dog to come back to you if you don’t give a command. You may call his name, but without a recall command of some type, he doesn’t know what you want. If “come” is now a poisoned word for your dog, find a new word such “here”, “by me “, etc.
4. No yelling. In fact, a softer voice will encourage him to listen and will be less intimidating.
Here are a couple of simple exercises. Do them for a few minutes a couple of times a day for as long as you need to. First – put a short leash on your dog, walk backwards, say the command with a happy voice, when the dog starts to come towards you, praise and treat, continue walking backward, say the command, praise and treat. Continue. Second – put a long lead on your dog, walk a few feet from your dog, call your dog. Say the command once and only once. If he is thinking about what to do, lure the dog by clapping your hands, patting your thigh, or crouching down so you are at the same level as the dog, wait. As soon as he takes a step in your direction, praise him, when he gets all the way back to you, give him lots of praise and have a high value treat ready for him.
When your dog will return to you 95% of the time take the lead off for one cycle. Put the lead back on, repeat the exercise. Toggle between on lead and off lead until you are confident and can do the exercises more off lead than on.
Practice the recall in the house where you can manage the environment. These recalls can be done off lead but practice only one recall randomly throughout the day and always praise/click and treat for every successful recall. Be happy. Make it fun.