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SEVEN easy steps to perfect recall

As a dog trainer located on the South Coast, I am constantly seeing dogs out of control on the beach or on the South Downs.

We all know how important it is to have a strong recall, yet our dogs have their own minds and quite often they would prefer to play with their pals.

If you look at the video of our dog Skye when she was on the beach the other day, she demonstrated what we all want when walking our dogs.

Yes,she can go and meet another dog, but when called she chooses to return to us, and in this case reduces the pressure the other dog owner was feeling with big dogs approaching.

This is how I have helped Skye, a 9-year German Shepherd, to have a solid recall. Yes, I was lucky in that I had a pack of German Shepherds, (read “32 not out” for more details) and therefore she wanted to be with them when out and about. However, as she moved to the top of the pack, then she soon decided she wasn’t going to listen to us.

So, although at one time, she would come right back to us, she changed her mind and so there was training to be done.

My ten-minute programme was designed to bring her back into line with us. Every day, I would spend 10 minutes working just with her. No phone distraction, no other dogs and keep all other distractions to a minimum.

Now working with the power of three, I would do every exercise 3 times and then change it up.

And I know that it isn’t anything to do with recall, but if you get your dog to focus on you and you become fun to be with, then when called, they make the better choice.

You will need: some high value treats like chicken, cheese or sausage, a lead and collar/harness and maybe a long line.

Treats should be easy to eat, and you may like to find your dog’s favourite toy to use as well.

1. Start with them walking by your side for just 5 steps and then a sit. Repeat three times.

2. Come around in front of them and get your dogs attention on you. If this means using a treat or a toy – then use it. Don’t want to use a treat? Fine you don’t have to, but you work for a payment so I am guessing it will be quicker if you do. Now rub under their chin – easier if you have a German Shepherd than a Yorkie, but you get the idea. We want to lift their head up and make them feel better.

3. Got their attention? Good now take one step to the right – and move forward again – take 5 steps and into sit. Now repeat that again two more times.

4. Come around to the front, get their attention, lift their head up and praise. Take one step to the right and do it all again once more. So now you have their focus.

5. Now step in front of them again – get their attention and now move slowly back for five steps calling them – get them into a sit, reach down and hold their collar and big fuss. Hooray – their first recall which they didn’t ignore you. Guess what – now you must do it again and again. – Three times altogether.

6. Next, produce their toy and play with it. If you are in a secure place, then off lead throw the toy and encourage them to bring it back – three times and then back on lead and start all over again. If you aren’t in a secure place, then use a long line but let them play with the toy before you start all over again.

7. Do this for ten minutes every day- undivided attention and you will have the dog you have always wanted. Start off by doing all this at home or in the garden but then use your pattern whilst out walking.

A word of warning: This doesn’t make your dog come back to you but does teach them to listen to you. Then you practice continually using your long line.

Make sure you are very sure that your dog has their attention on you before you call them.

This is when you use their toy – the one you have brought with you. Call them and run backwards – slowly.

Don’t fall over, it really isn’t any use doing that and if I did, I would feel a fool.

Practice in the quiet places and until you are sure that your dog is listening, don’t let them off to play with their pals.

You need all their attention for this, and you can’t let them practice doing the opposite until you are sure that your training has worked.

If you want to learn more about the methods I use, then you really need to come along to one of our training courses. Our Academy offers courses to trainers so that they can refresh your teaching methods.

Or if you want more help teaching your dog, then take a look at our Lifestyle classes are designed just for this – a well behaved dog whilst out – so why not check them out now at


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