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Keep 'Em Coming!

Keep 'Em Coming!

by Beth Ostrowski-Parks, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA


 Keep Up your "Recall Training"

Training your dog to come when called is the most important skill we can teach our dogs! When your dog doesn’t come when called, there could be a major danger lurking in his future!  Why? If your dog is running towards the road and you cannot successfully get your dog to come when you call, that could be the worst of disasters.
Here are some ideas on how to keep your dog coming to you every time you call!

The above example is the worst case scenario, but here are a couple of examples that may not be as serious but are still frustrating.

Consider these:

  • Your dog is having a blast playing with his buddies at the dog park but you need to leave and your dog won't come to you to be leashed up.
  • Your dog has just found something gross on the ground and he or she is about to roll in it or eat it and you can’t get your dog recall your dog away from it.
  • Your dog is out in your fenced-in yard and you need to leave.  He knows it (because he knows your schedule) and you have to chase him around to get him inside!
  • You've just noticed that there is a skunk or a porcupine in an area you are walking your dog.

These are just some of the sitiuations you might encounter that requires a really good recall.  

At It’s PAWSible!, I start talking about this important subject in week #1 of the Basic Manners class and in every session of the Ultimate Puppy Class.  I give tips and training to help my clients’ dogs have a great recall.  And if I’m fortunate enough to work with my client with a new puppy, that is even more important.  With puppies, you are basically working with a blank slate and what you do or don’t do will really stick with them forever!

Here 3 VERY important "don'ts" when it comes to training your puppy or dog to understand what the word "come" means:

1) If your dog is having fun doing ANYTHING, try not to call him if you know in your heart that he is not going to come.  Just walk over and get him and put him on leash or bring your dog away from the “fun”.  (Of course if this is any of the "emergencies like cars or wildlife, you still need to call and hope your dog responds.)

2) If you have to do something unpleasant to your dog (remember this is his opinion of unpleasant, not yours), like put drops in your dog’s ears or give him a bath, don’t call him to you and then hold on to him forcing him or her to endure the procedure. That will break your recall relationship in a heartbeat! If you need to do something to your dog, very nonchalantly go and take him by collar so you can proceed.

3) If your dog is doing something naughty, try REALLY hard not to call him! Simply go and get him and walk him away from what he was doing.  Try not to make a big deal of this as your puppy doesn't know that he is being naughty and by making a big deal of it, it may actually reinforce the behavior you are trying to extinguish.

Some of the above ideas can be hard to train your brain to do (or not do).  Remember, you have to train yourself before you can effectively train your dog.

Here are 3 VERY important "do’s" for you to start right now to help your dog learn what the word "come" means.

1) Decide what your recall word is going to be and stick to that.  I use  my dog's name and the word Come!!”  Try to figure out your recall word and use that for all practice.  Some people use the word Now! Or Here!.  You decide, but whatever it is train your brain to always use that word.

2) Make a list of things that your dog absolutely loves.  Include everything like, going for rides or walk and of course their food, treats and toys.  When it comes to treats, rate those too!  Most dogs find real meat treats or string cheese totally irresistible. ONLY call your dog for things he likes.  Use his name and ask him questions like, “Henry!  Want to go for a walk?”  “Henry! Are you hungry?”  If you start putting his name in front of things that he enjoys, his name is going to be irresistible to him.

3) Play games with him using his name and your recall word.  At It’s PAWSible! I always demonstrate the easy game where you toss a treat, your dog chases it, gets it, and then you call him back for yet another treat.  Dog's LOVE this game.  Play it in sets of 4 or 5.  Always stop when your dog is having a blast.  Play 4 or 5 sets a day if you can.   Always remember to phrase your recalls like this:  "Henry!! Come!”   What you are doing when you are playing this game is getting 100% recall!  That is building up your dog’s desire to come and it’s adding a new "reflex" into his brain.

I hope you found this article helpful and gives you some new or forgotten ideas.