While most dog owners wouldn’t even think about allowing their dog to go off the leash, you can train your dog so that he or she will come back or can be ‘recalled’ when you want them to! In fact, the ‘recall’ is one of the most important parts of your dog’s training. You need to be able to trust your dog in order to move forward into more advanced training.
It is best to begin teaching the ‘recall’ as early as possible, but remember that puppies are really like small children that require a good deal of patience, repetitive learning sessions and a gentle master. Once you have taught your dog simple heel work and to sit and stay, you should begin the ‘recall’ as soon as possible. Other less important lessons can be postponed until after the ‘recall’ is learned. You will be glad you did!
Assuming your dog can understand the ‘sit and stay’ command, tell him or her to do so. Turn around right in front of your dog and walk backwards a few feet before stopping. Hold the leash in your left hand (it should be slack) and stand in place for a few seconds. If the leash is taut at all, your dog might come before he or she is called so it is important not to allow that to happen. Wait for a few additional seconds before saying in a favorable tone, “Fluffy (dog’s name), come.” You can bend down to pat your knee for gentle encouragement at first, but it shouldn’t be required after some time.
The minute your dog stands up be sure to praise by saying, “Good dog” or something similar. Continue to offer praise as you begin to walk backwards, holding the leash as you go so that he or she does not trip on it buy at the same time you are not pulling the dog. When you have pulled all of the leash in, tell your dog to ‘sit’ as you stop, pull the leash straight up over his head, gently push his or her hind end down and towards you with your free hand. As soon as he or she responds offer gentle praise by placing both hands on either side of your dog’s face and offering your approval.
Continue to offer praise as you maintain eye contact and hold your head as high as you can. Continue to remain standing in front your dog for a brief period of time so that he or she will understand that they are facing the front of your body. It is essential for you to face this direction from the time you call for your dog to the time he or she sits in front of you. If he or she attempts to stray or go off the ‘straight line’ you have created, simply jerk the leash to get him or her to return. Remember to praise every positive behavior even if it is the result of a correction. Your dog will soon learn that he or she will receive praise for coming to you or correction for straying from the lesson.