It’s one of the most frequent training questions we’re asked… “Why won’t my dog come when I call him!?” Recalling our dogs from something their interested in is one of the HARDEST things we can ask of them. But worry not – a solid recall is possible with time, consistency and dedication to training. Here are three easy ways to start improve your dog’s recall today!
1. Reward Them Every Time They Come to You
Whether it’s a foot away in the kitchen or an acre away in the backyard, if your dog comes to you, reward, reward, reward! Every time is a chance to heavily reinforce a good recall to help your dog learn that coming to you is the most exciting thing in the world!
How should you reward them? For most dogs, food is king! Small pieces of something smelly and soft such as a cut up hot dog, cubed cheese, a lick of peanut butter, shredded chicken or store bought training treats are all wonderful options. Give them a few pieces a piece at a time and praise away!
A great way to ensure you’re always ready to reward this behavior is to set up treat spots around the house. A counter or table near the door, the mantle in the living room, the garage, a pouch on your hip.. leave bags or small containers to make them super accessible.
If your dog comes to you and you don’t have a treat, that’s ok! Make a big show of telling him what a good boy he is while you go get a treat. Then celebrate!
Bonus Tip – even if you don’t call your dog and he comes to you, reward, reward, reward. These are automatic “check-ins” and show your dog is engaged with you and interested in what you have going on!
2. Avoid Calling Them for Unpleasant Things
If you are only called to your boss’s office to be reprimanded or be given even MORE work, you probably dread it. We don’t want your dog to make the same association. Being mindful of what we call our dogs for can make a huge difference over time.
If you need your dog to come to you for something he doesn’t enjoy (think bath time, nail trim, a car ride for certain pups, etc.), go get him. If you call him to you and you stick him in the bath tub, he may remember this next time and be more reluctant to come.
Save your recall cue for things that are fun and rewarding in the eyes of your dog – treats, dinner time, going for a walk and play time. You know your dog better than anyone else and will know what makes him happy and what makes him a little less eager!
3. Release Them Back to the Fun!
If every time we call our dogs, we break up the fun to go back inside, leave the park or settle into their crate for some quiet time, they will begin to association the cue with Mom or Dad ruining the party. Fortunately, there’s a very easy way to avoid this.
Call your dog to you from playing in the yard or doing something else he enjoys. Reward him for the recall and send him right back to play! This will avoid poisoning the cue or causing him to only return if he knows mom has cookies that are a good enough trade.
Similarly, when your dog offers an automatic check in, be sure to reward and send them right back for a job well done.
Recall Trouble? We Can Help!
Training is meant to be fun for you and your dog but we understand how frustrating it can be when it feels like Fido just won’t come when you call! You don’t need to figure it out alone – we can help you rebuild your recall from scratch to create an exciting cue that makes your pup come running because they KNOW returning to Mom means there’s going to be a party.
To learn how RCO Pet Care can help you improve recall with your pup, check out our services, contact us or call us at (203) 641-2428. If you’re outside of our service area we’re happy to help you find a reputable, professional pet care provider. We’ve got your tail!