Boosting Your Dog's Recall Skills

May 14, 2019

Imagine this: it’s been a couple of days since you’ve been diligently training your puppy to respond to your commands. You’ve got their favorite treat in hand, ready to reward them for acing the command as usual, but this time it plays out differently. Your pup’s head tilts, they get impatient, and refuse to respond to your command.

But they KNEW it a couple of days ago!

This probably sounds familiar to most dog owners and it’s not isolated to puppy training - older dogs’ recall takes practice too! Although recall challenges are common, they can often be easily addressed with persistent and patient training.

If your dog's recall could use some work, here are some helpful tips and reminders to try at home!

Be consistent! One thing’s for sure - recall issues are not due to any “rebellious teenage” years. If your dog thinks chasing a squirrel is more rewarding than obeying your command, they will (more often than not and regardless of age) choose their instinctive behaviour. Using a consistent recall command and reward is hugely important. If you choose the command “come here”, you must use it regularly and reward your pet for obeying the command.

Use hand signals! Hand signals are helpful visual reinforcement and are especially useful when training your dog in or for a more noisy environment. Research has shown the benefits of training your pet with verbal and visual cues.

Be a nurturer! Punishing a dog for poor behaviour or their inability to complete a command can have a detrimental effect on their training. Dogs often associate scolding or punishment during training with the trainer’s command rather than the bad behaviour. It is always best to simply accept failure, move on, and try again after a quick break.

Bring the zen! An excited dog is often a distracted dog. Let your pet burn off some energy with a walk, run, or game of fetch if necessary before you attempt any training. Use a consistent soft, but direct tone when giving commands and maintain eye contact during training. These behaviours paired with lots of praise, rewards, and play will help to foster a special relationship between you and your pet and will aid their training and recall greatly.

Some dogs may be more challenging to train due to their breed, disposition, or their own life experience. Don’t let the challenge discourage your motivation to train your pup! With consistency and patience, you will succeed and the deeper bond with your pet will be worth every second of patience!

Does your dog misbehave or struggle with recall? If you have questions about your pets’ behaviour or training speak with a vet today! The helpful, local vets at Healthy Pets are just a text or video call away.

Happy training, Pet Parents!