Using play to build a reliable recall

A solid recall is a vital skill for your dog, not only for their protection but for the protection of our native wildlife. Plus, dogs who can be trusted off lead can experiment greater freedoms than those who can’t be!

One way of looking at recall training is that it’s like a piggy bank – you want to keep making deposits into your dogs recall account so that when you need it, you can make a big withdrawal. For example, your dog has just seen a kangaroo, because you have consistently rewarded your dog with high value rewards for a quick recall (made deposits into their piggy bank), they will run straight to you for their reward when you ask. Keeping both your dog, and our wildlife safe.

If you are constantly making withdrawals (calling them back) with no reward, the piggy bank will empty and they will likely not come when you really need it- because why would they come back if there’s nothing in it for them and something else to do that’s much more fun? or if every time they come back, they just get put back on lead and taken home?

How do you teach a recall?

You can learn the basics on how to teach a recall, and a recall away from wildlife here. But if you keep reading, we have a few fun games you can play to help practice your recalls in a fun way and to keep adding to your dogs piggy bank!

Game One: The Restrained Recall

You will need a helper for this game*. Have your helper crouch down and hold your dog by their collar, harness or around their chest. Walk a few metres away and look back over your shoulder. Call your dog* and run! (*Your helper should let go when you call them) When your dog catches you, throw a party with their favourite treats or toy. *If your dog has a really good sit/stay then you can play this when you are alone too.

Game Two: Push Back and Jam!

Gently push your dog backwards and then run! When they catch you, throw a party! This is a good game to play if you don’t have anyone to hold your dog for restrained recalls.

Game Three: Cookie in the Corner

Sit in the middle of a large room. You will need some high value treats like chicken and some lower value treats like their dog biscuits. Throw a dog biscuit into the corner of the room, they will go to chase it. When they are facing the corner eating the treat call their name or use your come command. Then when they run to you, reward them with the high value treats!

Game Four: Hide and Seek!

You can play this indoors and outdoors. Just hide, and call your dogs name once. Make your hiding spot easy for them at the start while they learn. When they find you – throw a party! That means excitement, toys or high value treats. As they get better at finding you, you can hide further away.

All of these little games help build value for you and your recall command- adding to your piggy bank so that when you need it, you can use your recall reliably!

Tag us in photos of your #recallgames

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