by Jess Blount // May 2018
We’ve all been there… after spending days and days practising our recall in the house and garden, we get out to the park, let off our dog and within seconds he’s got distracted and has forgotten what the word “come” means!
Here are a few tips to get your recall up and running so that you can be more confident letting your dog off lead, knowing he will come back every time!
Practice your recall around low-level distractions first! It’s easy to think that when a dog understands a cue, he can take it anywhere, but in reality, working around distractions is a skill that needs to be built up. You wouldn’t go to a gym for the first time and pick up the heaviest weight, you’d start small and make it harder as you improve
Teach your dog that not everyone is there to be his buddy! We all want sociable dogs, but it’s also really useful to teach our dogs that we need to make the decisions who on they get to meet and when. If we can do some work building up our dog’s expectation that when he sees another dog or a person he wants to meet, that he has to “ask” for our permission before he goes to say hello, it can prevent him from abandoning his recall to charge over!
Don’t tell him off if it takes him a while to respond! Expectations around recall are that when you shout, your dog comes straight back, straight away – and rightly so! However, they’re not machines and can make little errors at times, especially in they’re in an exciting place. If your dog gets distracted on the way back to you or takes a few attempts to respond, still make it a positive experience coming back by telling him he’s good and giving him lots of affection. Then, clip him on his lead and when he’s distracted by something ask him to recall again, and when he gets it right give him a higher value food reward so that he can learn that a better response gets him better things!
If your dog ignores your recall often, he’s not ready to be off lead in the park yet.
If your dog is regularly struggling to come back to you in open spaces or around dogs and people, don’t beat yourself up about it – instead take a step back in your training and work back up to off lead time on your walks. If you’re finding it hard to make the leap between getting your dog to come back to you in the garden and then managing it outside, it may help to get the help of a professional.