So here we are at the park, we have practiced our recall exercises and we are successful. Rover runs happily between two people and knows his name and that he will get a treat. I bet by now he zooms really fast between two people grabs the treat and runs to the other person. We have practiced calling him to us when out for a walk so lets move on.
Its important that when we have our dogs off lead that they are always safe and cannot run onto a road or run at other dogs and their owners. Choose your location carefully. To start this exercise try to have as little distractions as possible. We will build up to Rover coming when called even with distractions. But remember dogs have their own thought process and you will never be 100% successful with this exercise, but we can try.
So take Rover off the lead and let him have a bit of a run around. At this stage if Rover is completely distracted do not call him back to you. Pick your moment. If you see him looking back to you or if he is not looking to distracted call him. Say Rover come. The second he looks at you start walking backwards away from him. Dogs and particularly boxers love to be involved in everything, so if he thinks you are doing something that is more fun than what he is doing he will be right there with you. Once he comes to you give him the treat and use voice praise and then tell him finished and that he can go again.
So here is where most people make the mistake when they are at the park. They only call there dog to them when they are leaving the park. We know our dogs love the park so chances are good that if you only call him to you to leave the park then you will have very little success and then park time becomes stressful.
When I am training a dog to come when called if I am at the park for an hour I will call my dog back to me about fifteen times, give them the treat and tell them finish and let them run around again. In saying this pick your moment to call your dog when first starting recall training. If Rover has found a friend to have a play with and he is in the middle of a full on play, this is not the time to practice your recall.
My dog has a wonderful recall, she is four years old and about a year ago I was still calling her back to me a few times each walk just to reinforce her training. Well she would come back each time but then suddenly she stopped coming when I called her to go home.
I could not understand what happened. How did she know when it was time to go home. Yep she stood about three meters from me and just stared at me. I was confused because she came to me on the times I called and we were not going home. I thought about what was happening and then I realized where I was going wrong. When it was time to go home I was reaching for my lead. She saw that action and worked out when we were going home. Now when we are at the park and I call her to me I touch my lead every single time so once again she does not know when we are going home. This behaviour from my dog reinforces that they watch us carefully and pick up on even the smallest change in our actions.
So there we have it the basis of teaching our dog to have a great recall. Remember no dog will ever be 100% reliable in the recall so ensure you are in a safe place when practicing.
Happy dog training everyone.