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Recall Training Dog Tips

Our longest lasting service are hour-long, off-leash, group hikes. Obviously recall training is paramount. So how do we do it?

As I learned in animal training school, 1. every species is different, 2. every breed (or sub species) is different, and 3. every individual is different.

Even before you get a dog it's a good idea to learn breed traits. If I have a vizsla, I'm gonna have a higher baseline of trust than if I have a husky (you can read more about how the different dog breeds do on hikes in our previous blog).

But then you have to factor in their age. Are they a puppy or adult dog? What is their history? When we have new dogs join us we ask their humans if they hike with them off leash. Do they stick by you? Do they chase every ground squirrel and bird? Do they follow their nose into every bush? When you call them, how do they respond? Do they respond?

This is the process I'd suggest when you're just not sure.

Tips for training a recall

  • While they're still on a short leash, call their name and make sure they respond by looking at you. Reinforce them with food, verbal praise, or petting. Food is usually a good idea, but not every dog is food motivated. Timing is everything. Make sure they know what they're getting reinforced for. If you're unsure if you're doing it right, get help from a dog trainer.

  • Move to a long leash. Give them the feeling of freedom with a safety blanket attached to you. The longer the leash better.

  • Once you feel comfortable with their attention you can let them explore.

  • I like a two step process: 1 Call their name and tell them "good" for looking at you.

  • 2. Tell them to come, reinforce them by giving them treats or a lot of love.

  • Do this intermittently.

  • If they check in on their own, you can also tell them good. Any time they return on their own you can reinforce them.

  • Once you feel comfortable with your dog off-leash you can use a tracker to feel a little more comfortable. I also recommend attaching a bell.

  • When calling your dog, never approach them. Either stand still, or better yet, retreat as you call them.

  • If you need them to return urgently a trick I learned when I first did off-leash dog walking. Run in the other direction and be fun and call them. "We're going this way!" It'll override any distractions in the other direction.

  • I'll tell you how I first tested recall with my old Loki dog. I took him to a big dog park. I'd let him explore or play with other dogs, and then I'd go around a corner. I could see him but he couldn't see me. I'd wait for him to look for me, and then I'd appear and he'd run up to me. His reaction let me know he'd always try to find me. If your dog doesn't react like that when you're out of view, then they shouldn't be off leash.

If you still need some help, sign up with us for a free in home consultation and our CCPDT certified Dog Trainer Anthony can help you and your dog on their recall. You can inquire about training and our other services here.

Comment below if you have any other tips or questions. Subscribe to get notified of new blogs.


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