The Puppy Training Podcast

Episode #102 Improving the Recall

May 12, 2022 Baxter & Bella Puppy Training Season 5 Episode 102
The Puppy Training Podcast
Episode #102 Improving the Recall
Show Notes Transcript

Today we are talking about taking your dog to new places and recall. How do I get my dog to come to me at the park? Or on a trail? Or anywhere NEW? A strong recall can give a dog more opportunities to go places and be with you. If I am confident my dog will come when called, we really do enjoy more activities together. Here are a few tips to get you started.

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Improving the Recall

Hi you guys! Welcome to the podcast. Whether you’ve been listening for a while now or are brand new I’m so glad you are here. 

What’s going on at your place this week? Here we are super excited for summer to come - being outside is starting to feel really good. I’m loving our blossoms and the leaves returning to the trees. I live in Utah where we have four distinct seasons and spring is absolutely gorgeous. I’m thinking a hike this weekend with Baxter and maybe some hammocking sounds lovely. 

On that note, I thought it would be fun to talk about taking your dog to new places and recall. How do I get my dog to come to me at the park? Or on a trail? Or anywhere NEW? A strong recall can give a dog more opportunities to go places and be with you. If I am confident my dog will come when called, we really do enjoy more activities together. 

When we talk about recall there are many different levels. I always begin with a new dog working on this inside my home from just a few feet away. I make it super simple for them to succeed. Knowing what your dog likes helps. If your dog loves fetch, you can use a ball to motivate them to first, stay. Then come when called! For their reward, toss the ball and let them retrieve it. Or toss it in the air and let them catch it! Both may be fun for your dog. 

If your dog loves food, use their kibble. Ask them to stay, walk 5-10 feet away, then say, “OK - puppy come!” I like to pair come with another happy sounding word. Dogs hear tones so adding in PUPPY or their name helps the one syllable word COME sound more exciting. Try it. Are you in your car? Say it out loud. Or are you out on a walk? If you’re at work, maybe wait until you get home. Practice saying “COME”. How does it sound? Serious? Dull? Demanding? 

Now try adding a word in front of it, like Baxter Come! See how that changes it? It doesn’t matter what you use, just pick something and stick with it. Did you get any weird looks when you did that? Sorry. You’ll hear me say, “Puppy puppy come!” a lot in our program. Mainly because I try to generalize it to whatever your dog’s name may be and it kind of stuck. Puppy puppy is a fun happy sounding phrase so it works! 

Once your dog is fairly good with come inside your house, move outside. Go to a quiet place like a private backyard (especially if your puppy is not yet vaccinated. Wait to go in public places until then.) In your yard, recognize suddenly you are competing with a variety of new distractions - birds, wind, leaves, grass, cats, dogs barking, neighbors, etc. Do your best to start when it is quiet. If you were calling your dog to come from 20 feet away inside your home, go back to 3-4 feet outside. Do not expect the same level of results outside as inside simply because of all the added distractions. We will work up to it. 

Call your puppy to you, mark yes and reward them with something they love. Praise, petting, food, play, toys, etc. It doesn’t always have to be food. In fact, try this when you are with your dog next. Offer something like petting for 3-5 seconds. Then stop. See if your puppy comes back to you for more. Or play with them using a tug toy for 3-5 seconds and stop. See if they come back for more play. You will start to learn what they really like. Then you can use those things as rewards! 

Another tip is to use a long line. This is a piece of equipment I feel is a must when working on recall. It gives you support and a way to prevent your dog from running in the other direction when you call them but also gives the dog a sense of being off leash. You can practice recall when the dog feels free and only use the line to direct them back to you if needed. It is a safety net. 

A 30’ long line is very useful. Be sure you use it in a flat area only and always supervise your dog when it is attached to them. Clip it to the back of their harness and let them drag it around. We show you how to use this in our Intermediate learning module and course. 

In my opinion, it is a happy site to see my dog running full speed to me from across the lawn with an open mouth and tongue hanging out. Want your dog to LOVE coming to you? Try this. When your puppy comes to you, right after you reward them, wait for it, let them go play again! That’s right! Send them off to play. I simply walk away and go about my business while they run off and sniff again. 

You may find the opposite is true and your dog is now glued to you because you have the rewards! That’s okay too, but try to get them distracted with something then recall them again. Repeat the process of rewarding them and saying, “OK go play!” then walking away. Now come is a fun game. Doing this ten times for every one time you clip a leash to them to go inside works really well in motivating them to listen. Most of the time, come is simply come get a reward and then go play again. What dog doesn’t like that game? 

If you are having issues with your dog coming inside, they avoid the doorway for example, you can use the same game only including the threshold. Call your dog inside then let them run back outside. Repeat a number of times so that more often than not, your dog comes in and gets to go right back out again to play. 

When my dog comes to me, I like them to sit. We practice the concept of approaching a person and sitting - sit to say please - from the very beginning with our puppies in training. When they are coming to me, I like to keep that part the same. When they get to me they sit on their own - I don’t cue them - then I mark “YES” and reward them. I also like to reach in and hold their collar. 

Why you ask? Dogs are very smart and love patterns. If I only reach in on the time I’m going to put the leash on they start to dart away when my hand moves. It then becomes a new game of catch me if you can. That’s not my favorite. Dogs love it though! I can see some of you smiling and  saying, yep that’s my dog. Simply add into the come routine, sitting and you holding their collar as you reward, then let them go play again. Now they expect you to reach in every time even when they get to go play again. 

That’s it for today. Hopefully I inspired you to go practice a few recalls! Make it fun and your dog will enjoy it too! That’s what we are after right? Living life and having fun together!? Talk to you next week.