Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Ever feel like your dog just gave you a middle finger when you asked them to come to you? Did you ever stop to think though, why aren't they coming? It is easy to say "well there's a bird, or a smell, or something over there!" The real reason is, you haven't cemented this command in your dogs mind as a non-option. You haven't given them a reason to come to you over anything else. As humans we like to think we're special, but the bottom line is to our dogs that takes time! So, how the heck do we get our freaking dogs to come??
There is no special trick to recall training, it just takes work! And effort! And a little time. If you have a young puppy it's much easier to do. You just long line them, call their name, and reward heavily with treats and praise when they do come. Some how reward them every time, even if its a toy, praise, treats etc. Do NOT call your dog to you and punish them. For example, you find your dog chewed your favorite shoe. Do not say "Stella, come" in a stern voice (hint, they won't come) and then do anything negative if they do. This makes them especially hesitant to come to you even in times you're not mad at them. Do not rush the off leash portion of this exercise! Invest in a quality long line and practice with that before off lead work. Stim Collars can also be a super helpful tool for recalls, however invest in quality training help on how to do this properly.
So often people adopt a new dog, and they just let them chill and do whatever they want in the first few days. This could not be further from what you should do! You should from day one start working on your recalls with this dog and setting rules. For starters, a lot of rescue dogs don't even know their names so they of course won't come until they understand this "word" means me. I am not a big fan of adding your dogs name to "here" because then it makes the whole command "Winston, Here" not just "Here", however in our house with 5 dogs we have to say which one we want if we don't want all 5. Your dog needs to understand all resources come from you and that you are fair about that position. This makes them want to come when called because they respect they can not get needed resources without you. It makes them value staying closer to you in general instead of running off the instant they are off leash. You have to give them a reason to value you! Just the fact they are in your home is not enough.
But I live in the city and my dog is never off leash, do I need a recall?? YES! Accidents happen and you need a rock solid recall with every dog you own. Plus it is a huge relationship building exercise for you and your dog. I would rather you teach your dog a recall using the 3 D's (Distance, Distraction, and Duration) than sit or down or tricks. Recall is one of the most important commands. We would love to help you proof your dogs' recall in person, let us know! As always, good luck out there friends!
For the Dogs,