When you’re out and about with your canine companion, letting them off leash is not only a great way for them to get their exercise without tiring yourself out, it’s also a lot of fun. Being confident that they’ll come back when you call them, regardless of what else is going on, means you can play games like fetch, hide and seek and anything else where they need to run freely.
Dog trainers call this “the recall” and with Doha’s first off-leash dog park just weeks away from opening, it’s a great idea for you and your dog to master it.
As with all training, the key is repetition and building it up slowly. Follow these 4 steps and soon you’ll be roaming off-lead with confidence. As always, start somewhere safe and calm and slowly build up the level of distraction.
For this one, you want to offer them the very highest value treats and the strongest praise- this is probably the most important thing for them to learn.
Before we get started on the actual recall, it’s really helpful if your dog knows their name. Having your pooch give you their attention when you call can be a literal lifesaver as well as letting them know you want them to do something.
Start off by paying attention to your dog. When they look at you, they get a treat and praise. Once they’ve gotten the idea that looking at you brings good things, you can start introducing their name. Call to them and when they respond, they get their reward.
Start off practicing somewhere relatively free of distractions and as they start to get it move out to somewhere a bit busier and build it up slowly.
Now that your dog knows that calling their name means that you want their attention, pick a word (or a whistle if you prefer) that you can use as a recall cue. Something short and snappy like “come” or “here” is perfect.
Normally, we’d suggest avoiding a gesture or hand signal when training, but in the case of the recall, it’s a good idea; sometimes your dog might be out of earshot. Something like open arms or pointing downwards in front of yourself is ideal.
Position yourself a little bit away from your dog- a few meters is fine. Now introduce your call. Give your dog 5 seconds after your first attempt before you try again. If you think they’re unlikely to come, don’t try again for a while as you may end up teaching them that they can ignore the command.
As they get more reliable, try increasing the distance or calling them from another room.
Once they’re getting it regularly in the house, move out to the garden or another safe outdoor space and keep working on it.
As you progress, you can reduce how often they get a treat but be careful not to cut down too quickly.
Learning to come when called opens up a whole world of adventures and fun for you and your dog as well as keeping them safe from harm. We can’t wait to see how well you’re all getting on when the new park opens.