Recall means getting your dog to come back to you – which is exactly what we want when we let our dogs off-lead. Below is a guide on how to kick-start your recall journey. You do not have to start this when the dog is walking, you can begin to teach this in your garden, even your home if you want to!
Recall Using a Long Line
The recall is probably one of the most important aspects of dog control to come to terms with. When a dog does not return to you it is a danger to itself, and potentially others as it may stray onto the road and cause an accident.
You will need to ensure that in your home the dog does know its name and respond well to it. Try a few recognition exercises whereby you simply call out the name and reward with a treat any looks at you. If your dog should ignore you just walk away and try again shortly afterwards…you are looking for a reliable response!
A dog that is not listening to you may also indicate that there are areas across the relationship that need addressing, if you think this may be an issue please speak to us for more information. Every time you call your dog, and it is able to ignore you and do its own thing you are so to speak going one step backwards.
We recommend a long line for teaching recall (can be found on Amazon or eBay) rather than a retractable lead. Some dogs can run with no consideration which could lead the plastic holding the retractable together to snap, which will cause the lead to fail and result in rope burn if you try to get a hold of it.
Other things you will require for long line training will be plenty of small treats of a high-grade variety. Food such as cheese, chicken, sausage or ham would be fine. You will also need patience, determination and a splash of good humour. So, in essence the following is quite simple, but no two dogs are the same so treat this as a frame to work within.
The recall method:
Allow your dog to walk away from you and once it is a distance away and looking interested in something other than you issue your recall. We suggest using a word other than just their name which will allow them to associate the behaviour with an action. Most common recall commands are ‘come’, ‘here’ and ‘close’.
When calling your dog’s name, look and sound interested, you may need to use a higher pitch than usual make your efforts count and really let your dog know that you are more interesting than a scent on the ground!
If you are being ignored by the dog either stand on the long line and then pick it up or take up the slack as you are already holding it. If after calling your dog in the way described above you are still being ignored, you can then issue a pull on the line. We are not looking to lift the dog off its feet; just enough to gain attention, and then go back into your recall efforts. We do though need to make the effort in keeping with the dog’s weight. Give a light tug for small dog, and a heftier tug for a solid dog like a Labrador type.
Some dogs will be so resistant that you will then need to either walk backwards away from the dog (you are still holding the line) to get some momentum to follow you, or constantly reel the line in.
Once your dog is coming in towards you, you can remain still and go into your recall efforts. Try to take up the slack as your dog approaches to ensure it does not get distracted. Once the dog is coming toward you say your recall word – ‘come’, ‘here’, ‘close’ etc. Only say the word when they are coming towards you and not just thinking about it. Again, you want them to associate the word with the action.
Bring your dog in nice and close with the line at a short length and give a treat immediately, continue to keep your dog’s line close for about ten seconds whilst you are giving lots of physical and verbal praise.
During this time look about you to keep an eye on what might be going on before you release your dog ready for the next attempt. If it becomes too busy with people and other dogs end the session and revisit another day. You are looking to set your dog up for success – too many distractions will not allow them to succeed.
Let your dog out again ready to repeat the process. We suggest you try around 10-15 of these per walk which is why a secure field (privately hired out to yourself) is the best for teaching recall as the dog has little distraction from other dogs or people.
Determination will win the day as you are looking to set up a whole new routine for your dog and create a positive new habit!
Once your dog is showing clear signs of improvement, you can then begin to lengthen the line over a 4-6 week period.
Remember, do not let you dog off-lead until they are returning to you 100% of the time.