Have you noticed that young puppies come to you almost every time you call them? You think “I don’t ever have to worry about my dog running off.” Unfortunately, as puppies age they will roam off to explore and will not always come when called.
When puppies are very young, you are their security and they will run to you when unfamiliar sounds, sights and smells frighten them. As their senses develop they become more confident and begin to explore. During this time they can pick up a scent that is so intense that nothing else matters, least of all you or me.
For a puppy or a dog to have a good recall, you need to be more reinforcing than the alluring environment. This means the treats you’ve been using in the house for training may not work outside. Therefore, you have to raise the standard of reinforcement and use it only for this behavior in attracting surroundings. If treats don’t entice your pup, identify what motivates him and use it especially for recalls.
I’m sure all of us have at one time or another called our dog to come and proceeded to reprimand him for an unwanted behavior or put him in a confined area that he didn’t care for. Or have you ever yelled at your dog for taking too long to come on command? If so, your dog may identify “come” as a cue to avoid, so even if it takes your dog forever to get to you, remain calm and reward him for coming.
Another fun exercise is to call your dog and as soon as they get to you simply praise and reward them, then let them go on their way. He doesn’t have to do anything for coming and he will soon learn that “come” is not a cue to avoid.
These are just a couple of examples to teach your dog a dependable recall. To learn more about recalls contact Lillian Sikorski.