Teaching a Recall Command to Your Dog
Recall is one of the most important commands you can teach your dog. In fact, training should begin on the very first day your dog comes home. When given this order, your dog should immediately stop whatever he is doing and return directly to your location. This command can actually to save your dog’s life, by preventing him from entering dangerous situations, such as running out in the street.
The good news is that it is not as difficult as you may think to teach your dog to “come here,” especially if you start training when he is still a puppy. As long as you know how to train him properly and what not to do, you should have no trouble teaching your dog this vital command. Keep reading for more information about recall training and how you can start the process today.
Selecting the Right Command
The first step is to determine what command you want to use for recall. The most common options are simply “come,” or “come here.” Some people try using the dog’s name, but this is not a good idea. The recall command should only be used when ordering your dog to return to you and for no other reason. If you use your dog’s name for this command, he may become very confused when you use his name for other reasons. This could ultimately hinder the recall training process.
Only Use Recall to Order Dog to Come
Once you select the command you are going to use to train your dog, be sure to use this command only when you want your dog to come to you. This means that you should not use this command if you are trying to stop your dog from a negative behavior, such as jumping up on someone or chewing your shoes. There are separate commands, such as “no,” “sit,” “down,” and “stay,” that can be used for those situations.
If you start to use this recall command for other situation, it will not only confuse your dog, but also make him less likely to listen. For example, if you use the recall command every time you want your dog to stop chewing on your shoes, he may start to look at it as a punishment. If this happens, your dog’s willingness to obey this order will be greatly reduced.
Always Provide a Treat
For the greatest success, it is important to give your dog a special reward every time he obeys your command. Many people use a special treat, at least when first starting to train their puppy. However, the reward does not always have to be in the form of food. You can also give your dog an abundant amount of praise and affection, give him a special toy to play with when he returns, or even make a game out of the training process.
The trick is to make the reward more enjoyable for the dog than the behavior he is already doing. For example, if he is playing with other dogs and you want him to return to you, the reward you are willing to offer must be more enjoyable to him than playing with the other dogs. If it is not, you may have a difficult time trying to get your dog’s attention.
Never Use as a Negative
One of the most common mistakes pet owners make when trying to teach the recall command is to associate it inadvertently with a negative reward. Many owners use the “come” command right before they are ready to go away and they put the dog’s leash on as soon as his returns to them.
Over time, your dog will associate the “come” command with putting on his leash. If you are at home and ready to go for a walk, you may have no trouble getting your dog to come to you. However, if you are at the dog park or out in your backyard, the thought of putting on his leash may not be very appealing to your dog. Since, he has associated the leash as his reward; he may not obey your command in all situations.
Gradual Steps to Teaching a Recall Command
Recall training should start immediately whether you are buying a puppy or an older dog. It is important to train your dog gradually and not to let him loose until he has proven successful at your home. Below is a look at the four stages you can use when training your dog the recall command.
1. Start Inside Your Home – You should start the training process inside of your home. In fact, you can start with placing your dog just a few feet away from you. Use a firm and steady voice and order your dog to “come,” or whatever wording you choose to use. You can encourage your dog, by patting your leg or reaching your hand out towards him.
Be sure to reward your dog every time he comes to you. Keep the training sessions relatively short in duration to ensure that you do not overwhelm your dog. Once your dog starts to react to your command on a regular basis, you can add more distance between you and your dog. In fact, you should even start going into different rooms of the house and ordering the command.
2. Move Outside Using a Leash – When you feel comfortable about your dog’s progress, it is time to move outside. Be sure to use your leash at first. This will prevent your dog from running off during training. Just like you did inside, command your dog to come to you. Allow plenty of time in-between attempts, so your dog does not get tired or bored with the training. Always remember to offer lots of praise and a special reward every time the command is completed.
3. Continue Practicing with a Long Line – After several successful training session on the leash, you can start to give you dog more freedom. It is recommended to use a 20-foot long line. This will give your dog plenty of room to roam around outside, but still give you the opportunity to stop him if necessary.
Start with a shorter distance of about 10 feet between you and the dog, by holding the middle of the long line. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog, until you are a full 20 feet away. Be consistent and direct with your commands and be sure to offer a reward every time.
4. No Leash – Once your dog is consistently obeying your commands, it may be time to try it without a leash. Be sure that you are in an enclosed space, like your backyard or a dog park, to ensure you dog will not run away. If your dog does not listen to your commands off the leash, do not get discouraged. Simple return to the long line training for several more weeks and then try again when ready. Eventually, your dog will learn to obey the recall command instantly, in any situation.
Teaching the recall command to your dog will not just happen overnight. It will take practice and a lot of patience. However, it is crucial for your dog to learn this command to keep him safe whether you are at home, at the dog park, going to the dog groomers, heading to the vets, or in any other situation. It can prevent the risk of your dog running offer and avoid an unfortunately accident from occurring.
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