How to train recall

Recall has to be one of the top challenges for most dog owners but with patience and persistence can easily be overcome. It is important to begin training as early as possible with your new puppy or dog. Start by purchasing a whistle and I’d thoroughly recommend this book: Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson

Lets Start To Train Recall

  1. Prepare your dog’s meal but don’t give it to him yet
  2. Attract his attention without saying anything (rattle his bowl etc.) and stand facing him, making sure there is a clear space behind you
  3. Start to back away and as he starts to walk towards you give your recall command on the whistle (just once) and stand still
  4. When he reaches you place his food on the floor and say ‘Good’ in an upbeat voice
  5. Repeat this every day a few times a day

Room to room recall

 Wait until your dog is relaxed and leave the room

  1. Do you recall command from another room just once
  2. When he reaches you say ‘Good’ and give a juicy treat
  3. Repeat this  until he is coming every time

If he fails have you made it too difficult? If so go back and try same doing it in the same room, taking away any distractions and make sure the treats are high value enough

You can then move on in the house to:

Recall from food

  1. Place his food where he can’t reach it but can see it
  2. Walk a few steps away from him so he’s between you and the food and  blow your whistle command
  3. If he comes straight to you tell him ‘Good’ and return to the plate of food and give him some. Repeat this a few times and at least twice a day.

If he does not come DO NOT repeat the cue, just encourage him towards you and then say ‘Good’ and then go back and start again. If any of the dogs dawdle then simply be selective in only rewarding the faster ones.

When you’ve had at least a week or two of consistent recall in the housemove on to outside, first in the garden, then to the park.

Garden recall

  1. Put a few steps between you and your dog
  2. Blow the whistle recall and when he reaches you tell him ‘Good’ and give him a treat
  3. Now turn away and wait for him to lose interest so you can simply repeat the exercise, increasing the distance (but no more than 20 yards) over a few days

If he doesn’t come to you immediately then run clap, squeak his ball etc. but DO NOT use the whistle again. Practice this in the garden until he is coming immediately every time and reduce the frequency of the rewards with the aim of giving ¼ of recalls a reward.

NOTE: If the dog does not come as soon as the recall signal is given do NOT repeat the signal. You need to make yourself as fun sounding as possible with noises and by running in the opposite direction – anything that works – just get your dog to you and as soon as he does tell him ‘Good’ and give an extra reward.

If after every attempt on your part he still doesn’t come back then you’ll need to start working with a training line until he can be let off lead.

While training, if you don’t think he’ll come back don’t ask for the command as you’re setting him up to fail. Resist the temptation to try the recall out in challenging environments and stick to building the foundations over the first few weeks inside the home, then gradually outside, ideally early in the morning when there are few distractions around.

Remember to always have the whistle to hand / in your mouth and if you see your dog bounding towards you voluntarily blow the recall signal and reward him when he reaches you. This will build your dog’s conditioned response.

Suggested reading:

Total Recall by Pippa Mattinson