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Tips to improve on Recall

Recall is one of the most important command that owners should teach their dogs when they are still young, being able to run over to you when called can be a life saver in times of need, in this post we will share tips on helping your dog improve this important command. As always, we like to focus more towards the reason behind the action than the action itself, it is more important to understand the logic behind what you are doing, why and how it is effective rather than doing things blindly.


Deciding on the word to use
You should either use the word "Come" or calling out the "Name" of your dog, it is always best to stick to these 2 options. There are pros and cons to everything in dog training, the important thing is being able to be flexible and use the best and most effective ways for different scenarios.


Name
Name calling is very popular, we believe all owners will name their dogs and should've used them at least a few times throughout their lives, however most dogs will not listen and one of the reason is because of tone, which links to human emotion, some likes to use soft tone to call their dog, some likes to scream, some uses different tones depending on their mood, this confuses the dog and may cause them to ignore and even hate their name in the long run.

The good thing about names is that they are very specific if you use it correctly, try to find a unique name that most dogs do not possess and you will thank us someday, it is not hard to train a dog if you had given them a common name, but when you are outdoors a common name can be confusing for your dog, just imagine 10 dogs with the name David, all Davids will be running to 1 owner when recalled. So remember, find a unique name that is easy to pronounce.


Come
Using the word "Come" is very effective because it has only 1 word and sounds neutral, meaning that it neither sound aggressive nor soft, which is very important in training because dogs can sense emotion well, however the downside of a "Come" command is that it can be confusing when the dog is recalled in environment where there are many dogs. Though they can sense and hear the frequency of their owners, which helps them differentiate who is talking, can actually be mixed up when they are too focused on something else, which means that if you have another person shouting "Come", your dog might be confused and run to that person instead (similar to David).


Conclusion - "Name" or "Come"?

Now you might be having headache thinking on what to use, well you can actually opt to use both! However, it is best to start teaching with "Name" first, this is always the first step we will proceed when teaching students on recall command, if you do not have time to train your dog both "Name" and "Come" commands then name should be your first choice. Give your dog only 1 name and always use the same one, if your dog is called David, do not train it by using nick names eg. Dave, Dada, Davie, this will only confuse and frustrate them, if you love nicknames, then rename your dog to the one you prefer, it is not too late since your dog is not responding well to the current name.

After your dog is responding very well on it's name, you can then proceed to training on "Come", this will be useful if you need to shout from far, or as a correction when your dog doesn't listen, initially training this command will require some treats, which is the same way as "Name", but sooner or later you will need to stop giving them. Remember that "Come" command sounds neutral, so you do not need to worry about shouting or causing negative feelings towards this word, in future you do not necessary need to reward after using the "Come" command.



How to train on name?
Names should always be positive for your dog, you should never scold your dog using it's name. Every time your dog comes to you when called, you should always reward it either with food or a pat depending on whether the dog is food or touch motivated, it should always be as positive as possible. Keep on practicing and give treats/pats, repeat a few times a day, 5-10 minutes each session, once mastered at home you can try the command outdoors, use a long leash for this, let your dog sniff the ground and do other things, then start training by calling out it's name, reward.



What is a good recall
A dog with good recall should respond within 3 attempts, always remember that a dog is an animal with feelings, it is not a robot that follows everything perfectly, those that react like this are probably trained with negative methods behind closed door. Dogs like humans will have times where they might not perform as well due to health, age and even mood, however it doesn't mean that it should purposely wander off even after a number of recall attempts from you as the owner, if this happen it means that your dog still have a long way to mastering the particular command.

We will first let Amber smell or focus onto something, then call her name to get her attention, in this video she was busy sniffing at her favorite pee/poo area.


Amber will come over 80% of the time, if not we will slowly walk over (if she is not in danger) and call her again, she will usually react on the second attempt. If there are dangers we will shout a loud "Come", which will definitely work, this should not be used excessively. There may be times where she is too focused onto a particular thing, example a strong urine odor, and may ignore when being called, if at any point of time she does not respond on the 3rd command (this happened very frequently when she was 1 year old), we will put the leash on her, bring her to a corner and practice the recall command for a few minutes before putting her off leash again. When we say off leash, the leash doesn't always have to be unhooked from the collar, you can just throw the leash on the ground and your dog will soon be wandering off, this is very useful if you need to physically hold onto your dog in times of danger - quickly grab the leash on the ground or simply step on it.

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