Ask the Trainer: Recalls

Our little terrier mix Sophie is a great dog but she doesn’t always come when called.  We have been though basic training but she still ignores us.  What can we do to make her recall more reliable?

This is a great question and one I love to answer!  Emergency recalls are easy and fun to train and very effective if you follow a few simple rules.

What is an emergency recall?  I use the term “emergency” because I train a recall specifically in case I need to call my dogs out of some dangerous situation.  I need them to turn and fly back to me immediately.  I also need to be able to catch and leash them when they return.

Are there non-emergency recalls?  Absolutely!  I train a formal obedience “Front” for my competition dogs and I use a casual leg pat to let my dogs know that I am changing directions or pace and they need to pay attention.

Here’s how you train it…

Step 1.  Call your dog loudly once “Fido COME!”

Step 2. Reward your dog for atleast 5 seconds.

Step 3.  Repeat once every few days in different places.

The rules to keep your dog coming…

Always reward.  I like to continue rewarding for my emergency recalls to keep the behavior strong.  Use different toys, treats, and games.  Switch it up to keep it interesting.

Never punish.  Always calling your dog for a nail trim, to leave the dog park, or go in the dreaded crate are all great ways to make your dog run away from you when it hears the word “come”.

Rewards should be engaging.  Playing tug, tossing treats up for your dog to catch, or pulling out a spoonful or wet dog food are all ways to get your dog to stay with you, not just check-in and then disappear off again.

Now you’re on your way to an amazing emergency recall.  Good luck and happy training!