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Getting your dog to come to you when called.

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In most situations when dogs do not come back when called, it is simply as they are having more fun somewhere else. Consequently, as their owners you must ensure that you make recalls fun for your dog. A good recall is a vital part of a dog’s training and so it is important that this recall works well in any situation, and with all members of the household.

To ensure this is the case all members of the household need to be consistent with their training, following the same set of ground rules. Below are some general guidelines that may help with this training.

Initially you should make a list of toys and treats that your dog enjoys, with his highest value reward at the top, and lowest at the bottom. When your begin your training, you should use a very high reward, (but not THE highest reward) to try to ensure a good response, until gradually you can introduce some lower value toys or treats along with simple praise.

As a starting pointing, begin your training in a quiet and peaceful environment.
The house or garden is good, but the dog must feel comfortable, and there should not be too many distractions. When the dog’s attention is focused on something other than yourself, you can call the dog to you and when he comes over REWARD him. If the dog doesn’t respond immediately, then it is important to keep on calling him until he does respond. It is equally important that you still reward the dog for returning to you, irrelevant how long the response took. After all, if you tell the dog off at this point, all you are teaching him is that when he listens to us and chooses to respond, he will get told off! Not much incentive for the dog to do as you ask, is it? Repeat this procedure frequently.

Once you have a near perfect response in the house and garden, (remember to make it more difficult for your dog by trying recalls when you are in a different room to your dog), you can then move on to more distracting environments. For example, you could try a quiet area away from your home, or go to the park at an antisocial time, so that you gradually raise the number of distractions inflicted on your dog. Too fast a jump will result in a dog, who forgetting his previous training in the home and garden, is distracted by the environment and doesn’t come back when called. When you are away from home, use your dog’s highest value reward to counter balance the effect of any distractions.

Remember, if your dog does not respond immediately, keep on calling him and when he does return, give him lots of praise to encourage him to come back the next time. If he repeatedly does not come back, try using a long length of rope or an extendable lead for more control. For example, when he’s on an extendable lead if he does not return to you, you can physically pull back, and then praise him when he eventually gets back to you. NEVER be tempted to chase your dog as this will turn into a far more fun game to your dog, and he will be tempted to never come back when you call.

There are a couple of other points to remember when teaching a recall. Being out in the park with you is one of the day’s highlights for your dog, so make training sessions short and sweet, i.e. you decided to finish the session before the dog gets bored. Some owners make the mistake of only calling the dog back to them when it is time to go home. In this situation the dog, preferring to be in the park, will quickly learn not to come back when called, as it means going home – so call your dog back throughout the play session and prevent your dog from developing this association.

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