Every dog owner would like to have a happy, tongue-lolling, speedy recall.
However, you don’t see a great recall often because the secret of teaching a great recall seems elusive. But the truth is that there is no secret – it simply takes hard work, dedication, love, and mutual respect to create a great recall.
I say “create” because I consider a recall a work of living art. To get a dog to stop doing anything and everything it is doing and run back to you as if it can’t get there fast enough will make your heart skip a beat. Once you get a recall like this, you will never again have a dog that isn’t trained to that level.
We’re not going to teach “come” from a sit-stay or teach perfect square sit-in-front. Obedience competition recalls are set-ups and have nothing to do with real life.
When do you really want your dog to come to you? In my mind, he should come to save his life.
How do you feel when all you see are rear legs flying towards the street to get to the bunny on the other side? Pretty sick, huh? This is the time you pray that training time has been effective and shout out a very controlled “Come!”
Or you panic.
This is the time you want your dog to slide to a stop, wheel around to look at you and willingly leave whatever she was thinking about doing to run back to you – to see what Mom or Dad wants to do!
Sound impossible? It’s not, but don’t lie to yourself about how well you trained your dog to come. It’s your dog’s life you are gambling with. Be safe – be honest with yourself. If you haven’t put in daily time teaching your dog “come” from the first day you brought him home, you haven’t trained enough.
Now that I’ve burst your bubble and depressed you, let’s start with The Bare Necessities of a recall
You must have a good relationship with your dog so he enjoys being with you. It’s not what you think is enjoyable, but what your dog thinks is enjoyable. He should feel completely safe and at ease when you are around. After all, you are the supreme bearer of all good doggie things.
So be honest; don’t get your hackles up, just answer the questions.
Have you ever called your dog to discipline, bathe, or do toenails?
Have you said “come” in a cranky, embarrassed tone of voice because she was flaunting your underwear on the front lawn for the neighbors to see?
If you can answer yes to any similar question, you have lots of work to do.
On the positive side, your dog thinks you are the supreme bearer of all great doggie things! You have everything at your disposal to create a great relationship with your dog – food, water, treats, petting, games, toys, playing with other dogs or people, shade, warmth, swimming, being silly, etc., etc. Use them all to show your dog she is wonderful, she is right, and she needs to depend on you for everything.
A strong bond of communication can be created with these tools – not just a one-way person-to-dog bond, but a dog-to-person bond as well.
Your dog should love the word “come.” When she hears the word, she should think “I can check out that squirrel later because I surely don’t want to miss what Mom’s doing!”
If “come” has already soured, you can always change the word and the attitude. I know an Old English Sheepdog who turned into a bounding bundle of fun when he heard “free beer”!
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