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Improving Recall

Training your dog to come when called is without a doubt the most important exercise your dog can learn. Your dog can be trained to come when called 99% of the time when you call him. Do you have that kind of reliable recall with your dog?

If not, here are some steps to take to improve your dog's desire to come when called. But first, understand that it's very easy to train your dog not to come when you call him if you're not careful.
Have you ever found yourself in one of these situations?

 Scenario 1 

Your dog is having a blast with another dog running around and playing and it's time to go home so you call him to come.

Your dog's response? "I'm having way too much fun over here to listen to you right now. I can't hear you!"

 Scenario 2 

Every day at around 7:45 a.m. you call your dog in from the yard so you can get to work.

Your dog's reponse: "Why would I want to come in now? If you're leaving, I'll just stay outside--thanks."

 Scenario 3 

You just found out that your dog has an ear infection and you need to put drops in his ears a couple of times a day. You call your dog as you are going towards the cupboard with the medicine in it.

Your dog's response: "I've seen that look on your face before, I know what's coming next; NO WAY!"


So what should you do in all of these situations?

In order to keep your dog coming when called, you want to recognize times when your dog doesn't find it very reinforcing (pleasureable in his opinion) to come to you, such as in the examples above.

At those times its best that you simply go and get your dog without commands and without pleading him/her to come to you. When you get to your dog, put the leash on and say, "let's go" in a happy voice. Giving treats at this time is a great idea, too.  Then walk him away from the dogs he is playing with, or walk him back into the house before you go to work, or walk him over to the place where you put the medicine in his ears. 

By following the above steps, you are saving that very important "recall" for times when you are going to need it.

What else can you do to help your dog's response to coming when called?

Train it! Start playing hide and seek in the house, play hide and seek outside. Or try hiding when your dog isn't paying attention to you and call him or just stay silent and let him find you. Throw a party when he gets to you with praise and treats or play with a toy!

Play recall games back and forth with your dog. If there is only one human, try this: Show your dog a treat and throw it. As your dog is running to the treat and begins eating it, call him/her back to you and treat the recall. Then do it again. This is so much fun for your dog. 

And being fun is the ultimate goal. You want to be a leader for your dog but you also want to be fun to be around. Dog's love to play and if you can learn how to play with your dog, your training will be easy!

Have a lot of fun with this one.  It's easy to forget to train the recall, yet it is really so easy to do.