Dear Critter Corner: With the nice weather here, we want to take our pup to off leash hiking areas but his recall is not that great. How can we teach him to come when called and for us to trust him?
This is a very common problem for many people. There are a few games we can play with the dog to teach him that coming to you is in his best interest! First there are a couple important rules; coming to you must always be positive in his eyes, only say it when you are sure it will happen and if you say it make it happen. I also like to teach my dog to get caught.
In addition to the basic rules, you want to look at when you are asking him to come to you. Don’t let the only time you call him to you is to end the fun. Instead have him come to you often, tell him how good he is and then let him go have more fun! Repeat this several times so that he never knows when the fun will end.
Another great way to practice is with the use of a long line. This allows him to adventure in places you may not be ready for him to be off leash and have the security of the long line as your safety net.
Remember, you don’t want to use the leash to get him to come to you, it is there to keep him from going away. Reinforce and praise whenever he checks in. This can be on walks, in the yard or while he is playing with his friends. The more this behavior is paid attention to the more likely it will repeat and this is the foundation for a recall.
Find fun games to play such as having him chase you, playing hide and seek or teaching him the game of touch. Be sure to let him know how smart he is! If you are still having problems or would like some extra help, you can schedule a 1:1 Consultation with one of our behaviorists or call our Behavior Helpline at ext. 183.
Tasha Suda is the Lead Dog Trainer for the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Behavior Department. For more information, please visit www.phs-spca.org, call 650-340-7022 or email [email protected].