Recall training is easier to accomplish when you make a game out of it.
Having said that, it’s no surprise that dogs who find recall training more fun through games end up learning it faster and with more accuracy than dogs that go through a boring routine that hardly motivates them.
Indeed, making things fun will pay off in the end – which is why these three fun games that will help make recall training a lot easier should come in handy!
Game 1: Come Away, Rover
This game will work well in situations where distractions can be moved away or stay put in one place. You will begin with your dog, leashed, and a deep pocket filled with many pieces of your dog’s favorite treats.
Wait for the moment when your dog is looking slightly distracted, which is indicated by him looking away while his head remains alert. Call out your dog’s name, followed by his recall prompt “Come”.
In the next part, you will walk away backwards until your leash gets quite snug. Continue walking in this manner so the tension on the dog’s collar increases.
As soon as your dog fixes his attention on you, say “Yes!”. This is when you now take out the treats for your dog to see, who will then quickly make his way to you to receive them.
Give him lots of praise for following your command, and then resume your walk. Later on, wait for the next distraction to happen so you can play this game yet again.
The success of this game will heavily rely on you being able to call him before any tension is added to the leash!
Additionally, distractions may be placed by another person who can help out in this game.
It is important that this helper will know when exactly to stop being a distraction – which is the point where you finally call out to your dog. At this point, your dog will be more encouraged to gaze at you sooner.
The steady, backward walking should be maintained so the tension stays on the leash but be careful not to make any jerking motions. Keep this up until there is enough distance between you and your dog – enough so that his brain gets engaged.
You may dispense rewards, and then set up a distraction a little ways further at the next opportunity. Continue working at this pace until you see that your dog is ready to take on a bigger challenge.
Pretty soon, you will not need a distraction even when your dog is so far away because your dog will stay alert enough to heed your call. This is when you can begin to use a longer line of around 20 or even 30 feet.
Another tip that will encourage better success is to release tension right away when your dog makes his way to you before you give him the much-awaited treats.
This game will be very effective for dog owners who have pooches that are difficult to engage, like hounds. This also works for dogs that are highly motivated socially, in that they think everyone in sight is tons more fun than you.
While this game is very effective, it should be stressed that it is not enough to perfect recall training.
Come Away, Rover should be combined with other off-leash games to really solidify your dog’s off-leash recall training.
It is also a great game to try out with a friend and his own dog, so that in this group activity both dogs can serve as each other’s distraction for as long as they view everyone as friends.
Game 2: Doggie in the Middle
Doggie in the Middle is a fun, family-centered game. Gather everyone in a circle and put your dog right in the middle.
Each player should be close enough to reach out to the dog, but the pooch situated in the middle should not have any opportunity to exit the circle.
The next step is to have the first player say your pet’s name, followed by the command word “come”. As he says this, he should offer an irresistible treat. He then gives the dog the said treat, places his hands behind him, and then ignores the dog.
The next player does the same thing: call out the dog’s name, say “come”, offer the treat, places his hands behind his back, and then ignores the dog.
This will go on for some time until your dog finally notices a pattern emerging. When this happens, he should then be alerted to the person who then calls him next.
At this point, you can stop luring him with the treats and simply wait for the pooch to voluntarily approach the person who is calling him. When he does this on his own, that is when you can take out the food and give it to him as a reward.
When the dog begins to act faster, you can add a bit of challenge by widening the circle.
When this becomes easy for the dog to manage, you can up the difficulty level by having the family members stay in different rooms, provided that their voices can still be within hearing distance of the dog.
Game 3: The Go-To Game
The Go-To Game is a variation of Doggie in the Middle. Here, you will use a cue word that will send a dog to a particular family member.
It even works as an impressive party trick, and it is quite fun to be sending written messages from one person to another, delivered by the dog himself.
To play this game, begin in a circle much like in Doggie in the Middle. The first player will then command the dog to go to a particular person, such as “Go to Amy.”
Amy will then call out to the dog, give him a treat along with large doses of praise when the dog is able to accomplish the command successfully.
Amy then instructs the dog to go to another person, upon which she will ignore the dog after giving the command. The next person and succeeding players do the same thing until the pattern is established.
With this game, starting out with a small circle will always be important so you have room to spread out a little bit each time.
After a few practice rounds, many dogs will find the game to be quite fun and will then be motivated to look for specific family members by their names.
Should your dog get confused or you end up getting stuck, all you need to do is to retract the circle so your dog can easily regain his focus!
Are you frustrated at your dog’s poor response every time you call him? CLICK HERE to watch the FREE Video on how to get him to listen and come every time you call!