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Why doesn't my dog come when called?

The secrets to a reliable recall

Did you have a perfect recall and now you're struggling to get your dog back?

There are lots of ways to encourage your dog to want to come back to you every time you call

Teaching your dog to ignore distractions and to listen to you so you can enjoy off lead time with your dog is not asking the impossible - trust me!

There are certain times in your dog's life where recall can become patchier and can seem to have been completely forgotten

  • Adolescence - the dreaded 'teenage' phase - where your dog's brain is developing, hormones are whizzing, and he could be experiencing growing pains

  • Old age - your dog may be experiencing hearing loss or distortion, dementia or just slow reactions to cue's

  • Fear periods - your pup may be going through his second fear period - usually around 6 - 14 months where he may be finding the world a much scarier place and may bolt.

Maybe you have always struggled with your dog's recall. Are they easily distracted? Completely oblivious to you when out on walks? Well trained until they see a distraction? Don't despair, Your dog can be trained!

Here I will list a few great tips to help with your recall! Remember, your dog has to want to come back to you, you have to be a great motivator for your dog!

  1. Go back to basics. Whether your dog has never had a great recall or has regressed the first thing to do is to rewind your training back to the beginning. This means practicing at home, calling your dog to you often. When they come running to you add your cue (in this instance I will use 'Come!' ) and reward them with a tasty treat.

  2. Practice safely, this means keeping your dog under control when out in a public space. This also stops your dog from repeating the behaviour of ignoring you when you call them. Long lines are great for this although they do need some practice to get the hang of them.

  3. Practice in a low distraction environment to start with. Avoiding anything that your dog finds distracting will help them to focus more on you. This may include other dogs, streams, or busy places. Secure fields are great for recall practice as they provide a safe, low distraction space to practice in.

  4. Set your dog up to succeed. Don't call him if he is busy sniffing in a bush, paddling in the stream, or staring at the dog across the field to start with. Call him back when you know he is likely to respond, if he is looking at you or wandering in your direction call him by his name and as he comes towards you add your cue '(Dogs name) 'Come !' in a happy, enthusiastic tone

  5. Always reward a successful recall. This can be with a treat or game, depending on your dog's motivation.

  6. Be fun and enthusiastic ! Your dog is not going to want to come back if you are calling him in a stern voice, but if you call him in a bright and happy tone he is much more likely to come running to you, this, coupled with a treat or game will really give him incentive to come back

  7. Call him back and then let him go off again (on the long line). Calling him often on the walk, rewarding him, and then sending him off in front to sniff and explore will teach him that the fun doesn't stop when you call him.

These are just a few tips to help with your recall practice, there are lots more things that I can advise and help you with if you are still struggling.

A great recall takes time, patience, and perseverance. There will be peaks and troughs in your training and dogs have their own autonomy and will, sometimes make mistakes, or be too engrossed in a smell to recall immediately.

Remember the golden rule is to never punish your dog if he doesn't come when called. Instead, take a deep breath, and think about why he didn't return. Did you ask too much too soon? Does he fully understand what you are asking of him?

For more help and advice then please do get in touch to book a recall session with me.

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