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Teaching a dog recall is an important step in their development. Training your dog to come back to you when they are called makes walks, playtime and downtime safer and easier, as well as strengthening the pet-owner bond.
So, how can you improve your dog’s recall?
“Training a strong recall relies on multiple factors,” says Dr James Greenwood, the resident vet on BBC One’s Morning Live, who owns a one-eyed Labrador called Oliver. James notes the six stages of recall training below:
How to teach your dog recall
The first time you try calling your dog, start somewhere safe so that they can’t come into danger if they don’t return straight away. This could be in an enclosed garden initially, then you can build up to new areas from there.
Work out what really motivates your dog and use that as a reward when they choose to come back to you. The idea is not to bribe them, but instead reward their return to you with something more exciting than anything else encountered on the walk. This could be a healthy dog snack or verbal praise and petting.
Never, ever, ever use punishment techniques, emphasizes James. If they do eventually return to you and they receive a physical or verbal punishment they are less likely to come back next time.
4. The right lead
Try recall using a long, extendable lead at first if you are worried they might not return. Or make use of a long line that can trail behind your dog’s harness to give you something to grab onto if they do decide to run off.
5. Be patient
In addition to these key points, the main thing James says you need is patience. “There’s no quick way to teach recall unfortunately, it takes time and practice.”
6.Avoid quick fixes
James also says it’s very important to avoid ‘quick fix’ solutions. “Don’t be tempted by gimmicks such as electric collars. They are an absolute disaster and have no place in creating any sort of trusting or respectful relationship between you and your dog.”
What if your dog answers to one owner but not another?
Another common problem James says he comes across is dogs who will answer one of their owners but not the other. “I hear this a lot and it can take a little tactical diplomacy to resolve! Not because it is anything to do with the dog’s behaviour, but often it’s a reflection of the relationship between the humans.”
James explains that the issue stems from the different members of the household approaching training in very different ways. Which can be very confusing for their dog.
“My advice would be to bring the whole family in on every aspect of the training,” says James. “That way everyone is sending the same message.”
Is it true that some dogs can be less obedient, like chocolate Labradors, for example?
“Chocolate Labradors do indeed carry a reputation for being a bit less obedient and I’ve even heard people question their intelligence in comparison to other coat colours,” James admits. “As far as I know, there is no actual study to support this and I know of many beautifully-trained chocolate Labs (as I do many less obedient Labradors of other coat colours!).
“So, for me, I think perhaps the chocolate reputation is a little unfair. I prefer to think of every dog as an individual and in terms of obedience, that is more down to how much effort is put into the dogs training. (But , there are definitely a lot of very happy, very bouncy chocolate Labradors out there!)”
For more tips, information and advice about Labradors buy the September issue of Country Living magazine, out on 28th August. or you can subscribe here so you never miss an issue.
To learn more about James and his work, follow him on Instagram @drjgreenwood.
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