The recall is usually the one dog owners have the most trouble with.
It can be easy to teach a dog to come when called in the beginning. But as he gets older, his recall may get to be unreliable. The trick to make recall training stick is to keep from accidentally teaching your dog not to come when you call him.
Step 1: Recall while on a leash
First teach your dog the meaning of the word “Come”. With his leash on, put your dog in a sit-stay and walk a few feet in front of him. Then bend down slightly with your arms open and give the command, “Spot, Come”. Offer plenty of praise as your dog comes to you. If he doesn’t come, clap your hands to get his attention and give the command again. Practice this several times until you’re sure your dog understands the command.
Step 2: Recall on a leash while moving
Many times, a dog will come when called but swerve away at the last second. This step trains your dog to come directly to you every time. Follow the directions from step one above, but jog backwards away from your dog as he comes toward you. Remember to keep the leash slack to allow for corrections. If your dog looks as though he may swerve away, jog in the opposite direction he’s swerving. The leash will set him back on course.
Step 3: Recall on a flexi-lead or cord
The next step is to increase the distance your dog has to cover when you call him. With a 6-9 meter, nylon flexi-lead or cord attached to your dog’s collar, give a sit-stay command and walk to the end of the cord. (This is also excellent training for teaching your dog to stay.) Again, follow the directions from step one. Give the command to come and gently praise as your dog comes to you. If he doesn’t respond, clap your hands to get his attention and repeat the command.
If you can’t get your dog to obey the sit-stay command long enough to walk away, attach the cord to his collar and let him wander around the yard or house. As he travels out to the length of the cord, practice the recall as instructed previously.
Jim Anderson, MBA, MSc Animal Behavior, Grief Therapist, Human-Animal Bond Consultant, Professional Dog Trainer and Owner of PetsVentura Pet Relocation Solutions®, provides appointments and house calls to help owners solve their pet's behavior problems. Practice in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
As a professional dog trainer, I believe my mission is to work with both: the dog and the human, working in a partnership. Although I put quite a bit of time, energy and heart into rehabilitating and training dogs, a dog’s behavior is ultimately a reflection of its relationship with its people.