Teaching Recall (“Come”)
- Let your dog wander away, say 15-20 feet (some dogs will need to start closer). You may walk away from your dog to speed this part up. If your dog generally prefers to stay close to you, recall is likely going to be easy, but you can still practice it by having your dog sit and stay while you create distance before calling him back to you.
- Next, call your dog’s name. You should be loud enough to be heard from the distance you’re located. He should look at you when you call his name. This is the expectation we hold him to when his name is called out. Should he not look at you after a second of processing time, don’t bother attempting recall, simply work to get his attention again. Fortunately, you have an E-Collar on your dog, and you can now provide light stim (S button) feedback for the lack of response (it does not matter if the dog ignored you intentionally or was too occupied to hear you). Now, after giving valuable feedback (a level your dog cares about while still low enough to be fair) should your dog not already be looking at you, then call his name once more. When he looks at you say, “good boy!” You may use your long line and additional feedback, to prevent attempts to run off.
- Immediately after praising him for giving you his focus, call him to you. Say, “Come!” in a cheery encouraging tone. Use a cheery and encouraging tone because we want to attract our dog. If the dog looks confused (still giving you his focus, but failing to come) don’t provide more feedback, provide more assistance. Start prompting the dog to come to you, try slapping your thighs, cheering him with a “c’mon!”, crouching down, moving a little closer, back-peddling (engaging place/chase instincts), or give the long line a light directional tug towards you. You’ll find one or two of these guiding prompts will work best for your dog. Once you discover which prompts work best, stick with those. If the dog is not responding to any of the obvious prompts just listed you can be sure he is intentionally defying you. He is saying “yeah, yeah, maybe later, I’ve got my own plans.”.This is not allowed, and therefore, means we provide E-Collar feedback. Then we go back to the beginning of this step to allow another try. Should you fail this step twice, you will need to move closer to the dog or remove more distractions (including interesting scents found on grassy fields) before attempting to call him again.
- As soon as your dog is coming towards you, praise him for getting started. Recall takes time to complete since the dog has to cover a decent distance typically. Therefore, to properly reward compliance (not just completion) we want to praise and encourage the first few steps, the initial efforts towards completion.
- Once he makes it all the way back to you, say “Yes, come,” marking it as a success. Now you celebrate – praise, affection, treats, and play all have a celebratory reward value. Use whichever is most valuable to your dog and appropriate to the situation. You want your dog to know that the completion of recall is a good thing for them and for you.
- Should your dog detour or flyby, failing to complete the recall command, we can correct for that with our E-Collar at a level that halts or course corrects the improper direction, then proceed again from step 2 (or perhaps 3 if already giving you his focus).
With some practice your dog should learn the word “come”, and the importance of its immediate implementation. Then, you won’t need to use your E-Collar to correct for not listening or failing to recall.
Once your dog has mostly learned to come when called:
- Call out “[Your Dog’s Name], come!” using a cheery tone.
- Provide E-Collar feedback if he fails to initiate after 2 seconds. This won’t be needed with additional practice. Go back to Step 1 if feedback was given.
- Say “good come” as soon as your dog starts to come.
- Correct any detours with E-Collar feedback. Arcing paths are fine, but should not be excessive.
- Say “yes, come” as soon as they make it to you, and settle in for their reward (affection, praise, treat, etc).
- Correct any flybys with E-Collar feedback.
It is important to note that E-Collar stim is not a pager (at ANY point in this process). We use the dog’s name to get their attention, and we use E-Collar feedback to interrupt misbehavior or improper focus.
Once the leash or long line isn’t needed, take it off, but keep E-Collar on for feedback. As you progress, attempt more distracting environments to continue to build reliability.
Good Recall Practice Environments and Difficulty
- Inside your house (easy/safe)
- Back yard (easy/moderate/safe)
- Enclosed tennis court (easy/moderate/safe)
- Familiar low distraction park (moderate)
- Familiar park with distractions (moderate/difficult)
- Unfamiliar park with distractions (difficult)
- Enclosed dog park (difficult)
- Large unenclosed active dog off-leash area (difficult)
- General public areas with distractions (difficult)