3 most common mistakes when recalling your dog

A reliable recall is something we all want to have with our dogs, but in reality it is not as easy to get as others sometimes make out!

Unfortunately, although puppies often like to stick around, they are not born with an understanding of recall and there is so much stuff in the outside world that is just so exciting and rewarding for our dogs. It can be extremely challenging to convince your dog that coming back to you when you call them is the best thing ever!

It is so important to have a reliable recall with your dog, not only for safety to keep them away from potential dangers (roads, cyclists, livestock, other dogs etc), but also so that you can have your dog under control in any environment. If you want to have your dog off-lead in an open environment, then it is vital that your dog comes back when you call them. Nothing is more terrifying than the thought of your dog getting injured, causing injury or going missing. It certainly puts my mind at ease to know I can trust my dogs to return to me when I call them; allowing them to have freedom to explore and exercise on walks and for me to relax and enjoy it just as much.

We’ve all been there, in that moment when you’ve allowed your dog some freedom off-lead, everything is great and suddenly you see a rabbit run across the path. Zoom! Your dog is gone. Nowhere to be seen. Goodness knows what they are up to, where they will end up and what potential dangers they may encounter on the way! How amazing would it be for you to be able to peep on your whistle or call for them to ‘come’ and they turn 180˚ on their heels and run straight back to you, before even getting out of sight.

But how to get there?

It is possible! It can take a little while but with patience, perseverance and consistency you can! Most often we see it all unfold when there is a lack of consistency and reward.

1st common mistake we see is when a dog is not rewarded for returning to their owner. Why would they come to their owner for absolutely nothing, when they could be getting a huge adrenaline rush from chasing a rabbit or playing with that friendly looking dog?

2nd common mistake is when a dog has ignored their owner when called and carried on having the best time of their lives and then, when they do FINALLY decide to listen to and return to their owner, they get told off. Dogs live in the moment, they will not connect the telling off with all the fun they had ignoring their owner, they will make the connection that when they returned to their owner, they got told off. So why would they want to come back again in the future? It is very hard, especially when you are sick with worry and angry that your dog didn’t return, but it is so important that your dog does not get punished for coming back.

3rd common mistake is allowing your dog to practice not coming back. If your dog does not come back when you call them, do not allow them to keep practicing that behaviour. The more they practice, the longer it will take to teach them to come back. If you know they wont come back; 1st stop calling, but more importantly dont let them off and invest some time training that recall!

Retraining your dog to recall with a new cue (whistle or word) and lots of fun reward is a great starting point to get that reliable recall. Couple this with some fun relationship- building tricks and engagement games and you are on to a winner. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent, always set your dog up for success and do not let them practice not coming back!

Please feel free to comment if you're having recall problems; we would love to help