5 ways to ruin your dog’s recall

5 ways to ruin your dog's recall | Clan Dog

5 ways to ruin your dog’s recall

You’ve trained a great recall but it’s failing, you’re struggling to get your recall to be reliable or you just don’t want to ruin the recall you have. Read on!

1 – Only using it stop the fun

In the early days of training we make recall the best thing possible for our dogs. Heaps of praise and treats every time they come back to us. The dog learns that recall is awesome! Then gradually as our dogs mature and their training becomes more solid we do this less and less because we start to accept that our dog just does it. 

Then we make the big mistake of only using our recall when it’s time to stop the fun. At the end of a walk or when we need to call them away from play with another dog. No we are training our dog that recall is a bad thing…..and slowly it starts to fail.

The same applies if you know you are going to do something with your dog they don’t like. A bath or similar. Yes your trained recall command is the quickest way to get them to come to you but if you start to use it and follow it up with bad stuff, well you know what’s going to happen.

2 – ‘Trying’ to recall

I think we’ve all been in the situation, certainly with a young or untrained dog where we’ve looked and thought – will my recall work here? Perhaps your dog is having great fun playing with another dog and you feel it’s time to move on. So you ‘try’ to recall them and it doesn’t work. Every time you do this you are un-training that recall command just a little bit. 

While some dogs are very forgiving and will allow you these mistakes, others not so much. So remember if you are not 100% confident that it’s going to work – don’t even try. Just deal with the situation another way, usually by walking over and getting your dog. This is also where that long line is going to be crucial, if you know your recall isn’t going to work then why are in that situation with your dog?

3 – Using it at home

Now by all means use your formal recall command or cue at home but make sure if you do you are going to follow through. It’s very easy to use your ‘word’ to just call your dog in from the garden for example and then sort of let them away with it. (Although remember dog’s aren’t stubborn or deliberately ignorant, it’s just you have probably been un-training that word already) The same principle applies here as it does in the second point, if you are going to use your recall word/whistle or however you do things you need to make sure you can follow through.

It’s easy to think it doesn’t matter at home, when in reality it probably matters more.

4 – Over using your recall

This sort of falls into the category of stopping the fun a little too. If you do anything too much with a dog it’s likely that it will become boring and uninteresting to them. You need to maintain the magic and make sure your dog wants to come back to you! Yes you need to keep the practice up but if you are recalling your dog more than once or twice a walk just for the sake of training then it’s probably too much.

5 – Using confusing commands or cues

Have one word and one whistle command and stick to it. If your word is ‘here’ then say it and only it. Don’t say ‘come here’ or ‘here now’ and expect the same response. It’s amazing that the way you say it will also make a big difference. The tone and emotion in your voice will massively influence your dog. Why would your dog want to come see you if you sound cross for example? 

This is why a whistle can be a great recall tool. It has no emotion and it’s hard to accidentally mess it up like you can with words. Practice a consistent tone or ‘peep peep’ and stick to it. Give that whistle some special significance to your dog and make sure the rewards for coming stay high.

5 ways to ruin your dog's recall | Clan Dog

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  1. Helpful piece – I’m assuming the advice about not overdoing the recall command when out walking doesn’t apply when you’re specifically doing some recall training ?

    1. Yes and no – if you’re doing recall training you can do a bit more but don’t overdo the recall training either. Hope that makes sense!