We had a very scary experience the other night when, whilst walking Zoey around the village for her pre-bed walk, the lead slipped from our hands. She was off like a shot and, equally quickly, instinct kicked in and I yelled “Zoey heeeeere!!” And like a mad-dog she returned, mouth gaping in a grin and lead trailing behind her…phew 🙂
She got sooo much praise for this and treats rained down from the sky…very happy puppy and parents!
It just goes to show how important working on a good recall really is. For one reason or another, both our dogs are on-lead dogs, meaning they don’t get walked off-lead. Zoey because she likes to run and jump (at human face height) to say hello to *anybody*…obviously this isn’t acceptable behaviour, but especially from a Staffie it would probably be deemed ‘dangerous’ or ‘aggressive’. Hey, it wouldn’t surprise me…
And Kasper can’t be walked off-lead because he runs far. And although his recall is pretty good (as long as he isn’t chasing a pheasant or deer – although he did recall from a deer once, which was just awesome! 🙂 ) all our walks around here have really poor boundaries, low fences that lead onto roads where cars drive way over the speed limit or, just as bad, poor fences that lead to farmers’ fields holding livestock. Yeah, not a chance we’re letting Kasper off-lead around here…
But anywho, even if your dogs are on-lead dogs, it’s still important to work on recall for precisely the reason above. The lead could snap, be dropped or simply tugged out of your hands if your dog sees a cat or something else uberly exciting. So, here are some recall tips…
- Walk your dog on a longline until you have 99% reliability with recall (some people say 100%…but dogs aren’t robots, even the most well behaved dog can surprise you) You can use the longline to encourage your dog to return to you and, if something surprising and exciting happens before you are ready for it, you can stop your dog from bolting
- Start practicing recall in a distraction-free environment (for example in an empty room of the house)
- Use a clear, concise command such as “Come”, “Here” etc etc and stick with it! No need to say “Hey Kasper darling, can you come here?” a good, happy “Kasper, here!” will do 🙂
- Use really tasty treats such as cheese or cooked meats for rewards; your dog needs to think that coming when called is the best.thing.ever!!!
- Gradually work your way up to more distracting environments, such as from a different room of the house, a different floor, the garden, the garden with distractions, an empty field etc
- If your dog doesn’t come right away, make a prat of yourself! Flap your arms, jump up and down, run away from the dog, whistle, chirrup, lie on the ground…and always praise and reward your dog for coming when called
- Eventually you will be able to lavish treats upon your dog for only the fastest of recalls (we ‘make it rain’ treats when one of our pups does particularly well), but even slow recalls should be rewarded…just not with as many treats 😉
There are all sorts of recall games you can play to help establish a solid recall, too. Have a mooch around YouTube and see what you can find 🙂
And finally, the photos! 😀
This is Zoey begging for some chocolate…she didn’t get any because chocolate is poisonous to dogs but, even if it was all white chocolate (which is doggy friendly!), she wouldn’t have gotten any anyway…it was too nice to share 😛
And finally, Kasperdoodle just chilling out 🙂