Okay, so I may not be able to teach a dog how to fly, but I can teach them how to fly back on a recall. This week (or part of it, I haven’t yet figured that out) I want to talk about recalls. I find recalling, or lack there of, is one of the biggest complaints of dog owners.
Having a dog who will not come back is an incredibly frustrating problem for people. I have found that many people are almost offended/embarrassed when their dog refuses to come back when called. It’s emotional, on a human level, to realize that your dog has chosen to roll on an animal carcass instead of come back when you call. It’s not uncommon for people to take it personally–in human culture this type of “refusal” (as the humans see it) could be a personal attack. If you asked someone to wait a moment or slow down or come back and the person blatantly ignored your requests, it would be reasonable to think there was a personal aspect to the refusal. I regularly have to remind people that it’s not personal in anyway… it’s simply a breakdown in their training.
Recall is one of the most important behaviors a dog can learn. It’s a behavior I take very seriously and one I work on regularly. My dogs have learned to love to recall but it didn’t happen over night and it certainly didn’t happen without doing a lot of work.
One of the things that I think makes this cue so difficult for people is that there are so many little things that can be done incorrectly that sabotage the end result. For some dogs, it just takes one frustrated collar grab after a less than great recall, to set back the training weeks.
So this week I’ll talk about common missteps, problems and ways to improve the recall behavior. Should be an interesting ride (though likely a little boring on the photo front)!