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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

How to Teach the Perfect Recall

Having a reliable recall is not only a convenience but also a vital safety skill for your dog. Whether you want to call your pup back from chasing a squirrel or prevent them from darting across a busy street, conditioning a recall word is a valuable tool in your dog training arsenal.


In this blog post, we'll guide you through the process of How to teach the perfect recall and offer practice exercises to help your dog come when called in various situations.


STEP 1: CONDITIONING A RECALL WORD: You've probably experienced the frustration of your dog ignoring your calls. The key to a reliable recall lies in the conditioning of a recall word, and it's easier than you might think.


Choose Irresistible Treats: Opt for high-value treats that your dog adores, such as chicken, steak, or turkey bacon. These treats should be something your dog can't resist. Think of it this way, the outside world is like Disney Land for your dog, the treat you choose has to be more exciting than DISNEY LAND!!!


Treat Pouch Preparation: While your dog is not in the same room, load your treat pouch with these delicious treats, ensuring quick and easy access.


Start to Condition Your Chosen Recall Word:

  • Stand in front of your dog, hands behind your back. Neither you or your dog will be moving for this.

  • Say your chosen recall word ('here' or 'come') clearly and confidently.

  • AFTER you have said the recall completely, then swiftly grab a high-value treat from your pouch and reward your dog immediately.

  • Important: No need to use a clicker during this exercise, and you are going to stand still with your dog.

  • Repeat this process for a full minute, making sure to say the recall word entirely before reaching for a treat.

STEP 2: START PRACTICING RECALLS: Now that you've conditioned the recall word, it's time to practice it in real-life situations.


Two-Tiered Treat System:

  • Toss a low-value treat such as your dogs kibble a short distance away from you. This creates distance so you can practice calling them back

  • As soon as your dog eats the treat and turns to look back at you, cue your recall word, such as "come" or "here."

Click and Reward:

  • When your dog reaches you, immediately click and reward them with 3-5 pieces of a high-value treat such as chicken or steak!

  • Then toss another low-value treat away from you and repeat the process for 3 minutes.

STEP 3: TRANSITIONING TO OUTDOOR RECALL: Once your dog reliably responds to the recall word indoors, it's time to practice outdoors.


Start in a Low-Distraction Area:

  • Use a long 30-foot leash to ensure your dog doesn't run or practice in a fenced in area

  • Begin in an area with minimal distractions, such as your driveway, back yard or deck.

  • Repeat the recall exercise of tossing a treat away and calling your dog back. As your dog progresses and is reliable gradually increasing the level of distraction as your dog becomes more proficient.

STEP 4: TWO PERSON RECALL: Incorporating a two-person recall into your training regimen can significantly enhance your dog's ability to respond promptly and consistently, even in challenging outdoor scenarios. This exercise reinforces your dog's training, providing added assurance and freedom during your outdoor adventures together.


Team Roles: Start by having two people and your dog present. Designate one person as the holder and the other as the helper.


Holder's Role: The holder takes hold of the dog's collar or harness. If your dog has issues with collar or harness handling, consider treating your dog every time to help them become more comfortable with it


Helper's Role: The helper will take a handful of treats and allow the dog to sniff them but do not give them the treats yet!


Recall and Reward: The helper RUNS a short distance away from the holder and the dog, start with a short distance. Once the helper has reached the distance they will stop and call the dog with their recall word, such as "here" or "come." As soon as the helper cues the recall word the holder will release the dog.


Click and Treat: When the dog reaches the helper, the helper will click their clicker and reward the dog with multiple high-value treats.


Repeat and Expand: The holder gently takes hold of the dogs harness or collar again and repeat the process. Gradually, increase the distance between the helper and the holder as the dog becomes more responsive to the recall word.


Mastering the art of recall takes time, patience, and consistency. By following these steps and exercises, you can transform your dog's recall into a well-honed skill, providing both you and your furry companion with peace of mind and enhanced freedom during your adventures together.



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