Getting your pooch to come back to you quickly is something all dog owners dream of. Asking their dog to leave behind fox poo, other dogs, rabbits in the hedge, on a single word, takes some teaching. We make the mistake of causing it to be a horrible event. We call the dog to us, clip the lead on and head for home. The words ‘Come’ or ‘Here’ become miserable events for the poor dog.
Instead, let’s work on making the recall a great event!
These are a few training games that have been very successful in keeping the fun involved in calling your dog back. The first principle is to always call your dog back throughout your walk, throughout their play, and throughout the day. Don’t leave it to the one time their fun is going to be spoiled.
‘Chase me, catch me!’ is a great game that means the dog comes to you and chases you, catches you by arriving at your feet in a sit. Not the other way around. Chasing your dog is a really bad idea. Run the other way! Here’s how to play.
Call your dog to the front of you, then as they arrive, reward them with a treat and some happy praise. Then suddenly turn away 90 degrees and say ‘Come’ whilst moving a few steps away. Again, as they catch up at your feet and sit, say Yes! and reward again. Occasionally dash away as they get close to you, so that they can’t always predict what is about to happen. All of a sudden you are much more fun and rewarding to be with.
Repeat with the excited attitude of ‘Can’t catch me!’
Celebrate when your dog does as you ask. Gradually make this more fun and more difficult by turning and dodging away. Get them to chase you and try and follow you in an effort to get to the front finish point.
Remember the three key aims:
– Be exciting
– Use high value rewards (tasty food is always best and make sure you have a hungry dog!)
– Repeat quickly
If your dog becomes over-excited you must ask for a sit before you give them any reward. Enthusiasm is great, but not knocking you flying in their haste.
Stepping things up is easy. Occasionally, as soon as they arrive at your feet, toss the food away so that they have to move away.
Soon your dog will be looking for the next call, their eyes firmly fixed on you. Give it a try this week. Happy training!