This article is not going to cover a full and thorough description of how to teach your dog a solid recall or "Come." However, these are extremely important considerations to keep in mind when doing formal recall training, or when leisurely practicing it in your daily routine.
Consideration #1: Set up for success.
With all dog training, our emphasis should be on small incremental steps in order to set your dog up for success. Always train the recall on a leash and/or a fenced in yard of home. Make sure that you are not trying to have the dog come to you in a high distraction area or from a long distance. Start with the dog just a couple feet away from you with no distractions, then work your way from there.
Consideration #2: Never use it to punish.
When ever you tell your dog to “Come”, always (100% of the time) reward your dog with a tasty treat and a lot of praise. Never call your dog over and then punish them by yelling, hitting or anything else negative. This will simply teach your dog to avoid you. We want your dog to associate coming to you with nothing but good things.
Consideration #3: Make sure not to unintentionally punish.
When it is time to end a play session and you call your dog over, make sure you don’t just grab his collar and slap the leash on and drag him away from his furry friends at a play session. Even though you didn’t mean it as punishment, you are unintentionally punishing him for coming to you. Rather, give him a treat and a lot of praise for coming to you, even do a simple obedience command that he knows and then free him up and put the leash on him. Once again, we want a positive association with him coming to you.
Consideration #4: HIGH values treats.
Training the recall is when you want to go all out with your treat rewards. We want to use whatever your dog considers to be the tastiest treats around. We want your dog to stop on a dime, drop whatever he is doing and sprint to you when you say “Come”. Do we expect him to do that for a dried up dog biscuit or a tasty soft piece of hot dog (or whatever he values the most).
Check out my video: “The Perfect Treat For Dog Training”
Consideration #5: Start NOW.
You can begin training the recall command to a puppy. There is no need to wait. You can practice in your living room on a rainy day. Say your dog’s name “Max” followed by the command “Come”, and encourage them to come to you - when he does, praise and reward him.
Consideration #6: Don’t overdo it.
As with all commands, the recall should be taught in short fun training sessions. Just a few minutes at a time or mix it in over the course of your regular day. If you train any command for too long of a time, both you and your dog might become tired and bored. As a result, you both might begin messing up on things you already know, thus leading to frustration.
These are some key considerations to keep in mind when training the recall. They are very simple, and very effective. The recall command is one of the most important to have your dog proficient at. It some instances, it can mean the difference between life and death for a dog. Keeping a dog safe is what “Changing the World for Dogs” is all about.