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10 Quick Tips to Improve Your Dog's Recall

10 Quick Tips to Improve Your Dog's Recall

Want to enhance your dog's recall today? Let's dive right in!

1. Don't insist. If your dog can hear you calling them and they choose not to come to you, don't insist. Think of recall the same way you think of phone calls. Call someone once or maybe twice, if they don't pick up the phone, stop trying and wait for them to get back to you. If they never call back, it's a good indicator that there's some room to grow as far as the type of relationship or bond you have. If they call back later, chances are there was something else that kept them busy or distracted (even when it might feel like the opposite). 2. Wait. Dogs and other animals have proven to be far better at the waiting game than us. But just the same, if a dog finds it worth their while, they will come to you when you call. If they don't, do you really want to try to convince them to? Wouldn't you want them to make the choice, all on their own, to come to you? If that never happens, no matter how long you wait, it's time to review what types of activities you and your dog do together, where he/she gets to find a lot of joy and worth in giving you their attention, especially in front of distractions. 3. Avoid lures or bribes. Food and treats are incredibly valuable in a dog's eyes. But that doesn't mean you are. You can get almost any dog to come to you if you dangle a chicken drumstick in front of them. But at that moment, did they choose to come to you, or the food? Food can be a good initial tool to introduce the positivity and value associated with doing things with you, but ultimately, rewards of all kinds are best kept as the reinforcer of the choice your dog made, not as the main and only reason for it.

Dog trainer and yorkie sitting outside.

4. Don't ever call before anything that isn't positive. More than any other lesson, recall can help keep your dog safe, particularly in environments where your dog may be off-leash. And so, you must maintain the association to recall as something that will ALWAYS lead to a positive outcome. So, I recommend avoiding any situation where you will be calling your dog before providing any type of correction or punishment (both of which I would recommend avoiding as well, to also maintain your relationship positive). You might also want to avoid calling them if you're going to be taking them away from something they enjoy/feel they need there and then like other dogs. Instead, find another way to guide them away from that distraction, without having to call them and result in them ignoring your call anyway. 5. Start with the easy. Practice your dog's recall at home constantly, to and from objects of low value, such as a chair, and then a toy, and eventually even your backyard door slightly open. There's no need to practice in more distracting or difficult settings until you're both ready to. Until then, your dog's leash is your best friend. 6. Perfect the easy. Perfect the above. It's as simple as that. Make it so your dog is basically itching in excitement at the idea that you may call them at any point, no matter what you're doing at home, and that the most valuable rewards and affectionate moments happen then, as they're coming to you. 7. Take a mental note of the not-so-easy, and make it easier or put a pin on it. This is crucial. If your dog has a difficult time in one setting vs another when it comes to recall or any training for that matter, make a mental note and look for a way to make it easier on them. Perhaps by waiting a bit more or going somewhere quieter and less busy, before trying again. 8. Recall is a lifelong lesson. Don't assume that your dog has mastered recall at any point. Behaviour in dogs is not linear, and it can change with time. To help ensure that your dog's recall is on point, be extra mindful of any time where your dog offers you his or her attention, without you asking for it and reward it. This will encourage them to want to interact with you more, especially when you do call them. 9. Leashes are a safe way to learn. As your dog's recall gets better, don't go from using a 5 or 6 ft leash to no leash at all. Instead, buy a 10 ft leash and put your dog's recall to the test. Once that goes flawlessly, get a 20 ft leash, and so on. 10. Have fun! Your dog coming to you needs to feel rewarding for them AND for you! I'm sure your dog reacts like you've been away for 5 months when all you did was bring the garbage outside when you come back in. That's part of your dog's love language, so don't hesitate to do the same for them and genuinely enjoy getting to interact with them, when they do give you their attention, prompted or not. How would you rate your dog's recall right now?


When/How often do you use sit?

  • I use it whenever my dog is distracted/not listening.

  • I use it whenever I want my dog to Sit, just for fun.

  • I use it among many other fun tricks we do together.

  • All the above!


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