Some dog owners – despite their best efforts at recall training – end up hitting a wall in terms of progress. Usually, the reason for this is because you have become quite prudent when it comes to rewards – or that your approach to recall training is not fun.
Even when your overall goal is for your dog to be successful in recall training, it is the method of doing so which needs tweaking.
Training Fail #1: Not Being Generous with the Treats
Your recall training efforts aren’t delivering the kind of results that you want because you fail to give your dog a very important and concrete form of motivation: treats. If you fail to produce treats, then your dog will fail to have a reason to come to you at all.
He will then think that there are more important and satisfying things in the environment than approaching you when you call – and will then prioritize those things over you.
Training Fail #2: Calling Your Dog All the Time… For No Reason
It is easy to feel giddy when you experience success in recall training. After all, your first success indicates that you are on the right path towards developing a habit of coming when called. However, there might be the tendency to call your dog all the time, which can get tiresome for your dog if you don’t have anything to give in exchange for his obedience.
If your dog makes the effort to fight off the temptation to run after the doves instead of running towards you, then you better have something that will indicate he made the right decision, rewards-wise.
Training Fail #3: Not Being Consistent with Recall Training
If you practice recall training very seldomly or only when you feel like it, you are not developing your dog’s solid sense of recall. A dog who has recall training down pat is a dog who has undergone countless hours of training until it has become second nature to him to come when called.
Being very random about when or where you will practice recall training is setting yourself up for failure, even if you have the treats to hand out. Dogs are adept at identifying patterns of behavior, which is why consistent training will allow them to easily understand what being called means and will therefore heed that call.
Meanwhile, choosing to call your dog only when you feel like it can be akin to starting at the first step every single time because your dog cannot establish the relationship between the command and the treat that comes after heeding said command.
Turning Failures into Successes
Setting yourself up for success is not only about steering clear of the training failures mentioned earlier. It also involves incorporating some successful strategies into your existing recall system, including:
Starting with a small distance, have your dog drag a long leash and make it appear as if you have nothing interesting for your dog. Do this in a familiar place with no distractions, then call your dog to come to you.
When your dog is near you, make an upward gesture using your hand with the hidden reward which you also use when you taught him how to sit. Combining the two training methods will mean your dog will sit as soon as he comes to you.
In this game, you will move away from your dog as he watches you. Another person will hold your dog as you give him the “stay” command, and then you will promptly “disappear” to somewhere it cannot see you.
Next, call to your dog using an excited voice – upon which your helper will then release the dog so it can find you. This game needs little to no rewards since the motivation is rooted in the joy your dog feels when it finally finds you.
Chase Me Recall
This game requires a safe location, such as a yard that is fenced in or by recruiting a helper who will follow your dog behind a long line. Wait for your dog to become slightly distracted, as indicated by him smelling around. Wait a few minutes, and then quietly drift away from your dog.
When you are already some distance away from him without him knowing it, yell out “Come!” suddenly and then run away. Look behind you to see if your dog is following you, and when you see that he is say “Good boy, good boy!” which will act as your secondary motivator.
When he catches up to you, give him large doses of praise and perhaps a hug or two. After some time, do this game again so it will be automatic for your dog to react and respond in the same manner because the game is very exciting for him.
The great thing about this is that you can combine the Chase Recall with the Straight Recall exercises, with the help of a longer leash and a helper who is in charge of holding your dog’s collar. You can stand several feet away from your dog while holding the long line (about 20-25 feet), and then say “Come!” while running away for about 10-20 feet.
When your dog reaches you, you will have to give him large amounts of praise so he knows that the effort he made to run back to you will yield something satisfying for him as well.
Knowing what it is that you are doing wrong is certainly very helpful when it comes to perfecting your recall training methods for your dog. It clues you in on certain things that hinder your success – things that you might not realize to have a great impact on all your efforts to teach your dog to become adept at recall training.
Coupled with some really fun and motivating games, doing away with the unhelpful behaviors and then replacing them with these training “boosters” will create a much bigger impact and fast track your way to better – and longer lasting – success in recall training.
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!