The recall is one of the most important of the basic obedience cues. It is also the cue that typically causes people the most problems. We have a very clear understanding of how the recall cue can be undermined over time and will show you how to avoid the common pitfalls.
Regard a solid recall (calling your dog to come) as an insurance policy. One day it may save your dogs’ life.
It is very natural for your puppy to stay close to you, follow you, or come away from a distraction at a young age (8-16 weeks). It is equally natural for them to stop coming shortly after that — about the time they hit their Juvenile and Adolescent Period at 4 to 8 months (check Your Puppy’s Development).
It is not uncommon for people to undermine the young puppy’s natural desire to stick close to us. This can happen easily when calling a puppy to come for something they perceive as unpleasant. Common examples of this would be calling a dog to come away from other dogs, or calling a dog to come to have its nails clipped.
Coupling the dog’s natural instinct to turn a deaf ear during the Juvenile and Adolescent Period with the unintentional misuse of the cue word, will ensure that a dog does not come reliably when called.
The first consideration when training a solid and predictable recall is to ensure that you only call your dog for something that he thinks is wonderful. Treats. Games. Playtime. Walks. Going to the Park.
Remember, if you call your dog to come to you and something wonderful happens when he gets to you, he is far more likely to repeat this behavior regularly. If, however, you call him to come to you and something that he does not like happens, he is going to stop coming when you call him.
In reality, the recall is taught so that you will have the ability to keep your dog safe should the need arise. Think of it as an insurance policy. The recall is essential in order for you to be able to take your dog to the park and let him off the leash to play.
Behavior that gets reinforced and rewarded gets repeated!
We have included this exercise because in real life there can be some very persuasive distractions for a dog. A child with an ice cream cone, a dead bird or fish, someone with a ham sandwich, etc. You want your dog to come to you regardless of the distraction.