Dog owners across the world have the best intentions of training their puppies when they first bring them home. However, training sessions are often thrown out the window and long-forgotten once other responsibilities kick in.
After all, it’s hard to set time aside to train your puppy or dog when the house needs to be cleaned, dinner must be cooked, you just got home from work, and the kids should be starting their homework. Although it is easy to let your dog’s training go by the wayside, there are a few life-saving skills your dog should possess.
Yes, you read that correctly! You can train your dog to have skills that could, one day, save their life. For example, teaching your dog to reliably recall is one of the first skills you should teach your pup as it can prevent them from running into the middle of a busy road or towards an aggressive dog. To reliably recall means that your dog, without fail, come straight to you when they are called, no matter how tempting the environment distractions.
While it may seem difficult to compete with the enticing distractors in your dog’s environment, it is an easy process to train them to reliably recall with consistent practice and patience! Here are our top tips for training your dog to recall:
Use Effective Wording
Whether you have owned your dog for a while or you just adopted your puppy, it is likely that they have become desensitized to the word “come.” Oftentimes, misinformed owners tell their dogs to “come” just to give the dog a negative consequence when they obey.
Telling your dog to “come” and then doing things like scolding them or clipping their nails is not an effective way to make them reliably recall. Think about it. Would you want to “come” to someone if you knew something scary or upsetting was about to happen? Probably not.
Choose a new word like “here” or even “target” to use as your recall cue. Then, start fresh and give your dog only positive reinforcement when they come to you when called. It may be tough to break the habit, but it is important that you don’t punish your dog for obeying and recalling.
Start With Baby Steps
You can begin your practice sessions in the open living room of your home or even your fenced-in backyard. If your dog is new to reliable recall training, it is likely they don’t have the self-control yet to ignore environmental distractions. Therefore, it is important to start in a more secure area before you bring them to public spaces with other dogs and humans.
Once your pup is mastering basic recall at home, you can move to more populated areas such as the Oberrieder Dog Park in Playa Vista! This luscious park has plenty of space for your pup to practice recall. The Centinela Feed pet store in Venice, Los Angeles is another great place to practice recall once your dog is flexing more advanced skills! Remember, Los Angeles has clear laws that dogs should be on leashes in these public places. However, you can still practice by keeping your dog on-leash while they sniff bones and toys and then recalling to help them build recall skills around more tasty distractions.
Make sure you have treats on hand as positive reinforcements before you begin training. You’ll want to be prepared to reward good behavior as soon as it happens. For food-motivated dogs, food and treats will work wonderfully to get them in the habit of reliably recalling. Dogs who yearn for your attention will be happy with extra love and pets when they recall.
Practice Makes Perfect
There are many strategies different trainers take to teach dogs how to reliably recall. One of the most effective happens to be the “scatter recall” method. To successfully begin this type of training, you’ll put a treat at your feet and wait for your puppy to come over and eat the treat. Then, you’ll move away from your dog and place another treat at your feet.
Your dog will come over, once again, to eat the treat. Continue the process and try to speed up how fast you are moving away from your dog and dropping your next treat. Gradually, your dog will also speed up until they are running to you to get that next treat.
At this point, you can pause and wait for your dog to get all the way to you before you drop the next treat on the ground. Now, you can begin incorporating your chosen queue word (let’s say you chose “here”). Wait until your dog isn’t looking or is distracted and say “here.” As soon as they rush over, give them their treat and some extra pets.
They will begin to associate “here” with positive pets and treats. Every time they hear that word, they’ll have an engrained response to turn away from any distraction and run straight to you. For a clear view of what it looks like to Scatter Recall train your dog, check out Pawsitive K9 Solutions Introduction to Recall-Scatter Recall video.
Ready, Set, Train!
Remember, a huge part of dog training involves you training yourself. Break bad habits of punishing your dog after recalling, and remain consistent in their training. Once a dog has mastered a trick, they need daily practice to keep the skills fresh!
Here at Pawsitive K9 Solutions, we are dedicated to providing you with the best dog training advice. For more valuable information about dog training, check out our article about How to Communicate With Your Dog! In addition, we provide thorough and effective Los Angeles dog training services. Contact Us when you are ready for a 90-minute consultation, and we can develop an action plan for you and your dog!