This is a topic that is super important for every dog owner to get a grip on.  It is a potential life saver in many different circumstances, and yet so many dogs really don’t know what “come” even means, let alone being able to follow through in emergency situations or in highly distracting environments.

Its really interesting that when I ask new clients about what a recall looks like to them, the majority describe sitting their dog in a stay, telling him to stay and giving a hand signal, walking away a distance, waiting a little while and then calling their dog to them.

Then I ask “When would you use this  when you are out and about with your dog?”

With a look of dawning enlightenment, they sheepishly say……never.

When we teach our dogs to sit and stay and then always call them out of the stay and come to us, it makes the Stay command very unstable.  Our dogs start to anticipate that we will call them and if they are unstable in the position or something catches their eye, they will break

So What is a Real Life Recall?

For some reason, the picture most people have of teaching a recall is what I just described.  Unfortunately, it isn’t terribly helpful for the average dog family who like to take their dog with them on adventures. 

What we really want to teach our dogs is that no matter what you are doing – sniffing, running, playing etc – when I call you, stop and run back to me.  

And so, teaching a “real life” recall is all about 

  • Teaching the dog what “come” actually means
  • Creating the relationship where we are the most important thing in his life
  • Making sure he can always succeed by using a long line so we can’t be ignored
  • Gradually adding distractions to teach him to do it in every situation we can think of
  • And many repetitions to create the automatic response. 

Its not a quick command to teach but its immeasurably important, potentially life saving and very satisfying when its done.