Hi, it’s Linda from Cause and Effect Dog Training again.

This is video 12. In my opinion, this video covers one of the most important things you can ever teach your dog. It can literally be life saving, and that’s the recall or the come command. The come command is as much about teaching your dog to come to you as it is about having a great relationship with your dog. If you haven’t got a great relationship with your dog, then he’s not going to want to come to you. It also needs to be fun. We need to heavily reinforce our dogs when they do come to us. So, if our dog is very food motivated, we’ll use a lot of food. Whatever it is that makes your dog want to come to you, that’s what you use to reinforce him coming. The recall is done incrementally, and it’s done in a way that your dog never fails at it.

To get a really reliable recall, you have to do many, many repetitions of your dog coming every single time you call him. If you call your dog and he doesn’t come and he decides not to, then he’s just learnt that “come” actually doesn’t mean he has to. So then your training is right back at the start. How do we do this? To start with, you just have him on an ordinary length lead. You can let him sniff or have him walking beside you and can tell him to come. You then encourage him to come to you. You can do that by moving backwards, drawing him towards you. When you walk backwards, dogs generally are drawn to follow and then you heavily reinforce him when he gets there.

When you both have that going really well, you can then start extending the length of the lead. You don’t need to buy a special training lead for this. You can buy long lines, but you can also just buy a thin rope at one of the hardware shops, put a catch on it, and you can use that. This way, you can vary the length of your lead for the recall. After this, it’s about making sure that your dog comes every single time you ask and having that reward for him every single time. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking their dog knows what “come” means when he really doesnt. He might be doing it great in the backyard, and then they go to say, the park. They tell him to “come’ and he doesn’t. The reason for that is because the distractions and the environment that he’s in is way more interesting and exciting than what you are. That’s why the recall has to be something that is a lot of fun for the dog. You have to be the thing that he wants the most and you have to be able to make him come every single time you ask.

A lot of people will teach their dog to stay and then call him out of it to teach a recall. In real life, your dog will be out sniffing something, or he’ll be going over to another dog or trying to cross the road. You need him to come from wherever he is. So don’t slip into that mistake of teaching your dog to stay, and then calling him out of a stay. When I teach those things, they’re very, very separate exercises. I want my dog to be really stable in a stay before I would ever combine the “come” command with that, as combining before he really knows both commands well can make your dog really confused. This is what can happen – you’ve got him in a stay, and sometimes you call him to “come” and at other times you don’t. He is now guessing when he can break the stay and eventually he takes matters into his own paws and breaks. So it’s really important to do them separately for a long time, make both behaviors very, very stable before you would even think of combining them.