Does your puppy come back when you call him? Probably not.
Trying to catch a puppy is annoying! And highly amusing for your friends and neighbors as they watch you try to get your new puppy back in the house.
Before you got your puppy you probably imagined that he would automatically come to you when you shout his name.
Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that. Puppies don’t automatically know what ‘come here’ means. In fact they even have no idea what you want them to do when you shout their names!
And why would they? Why would they even want to come to you? What do they get out of walking towards you when you make a noise?
Puppy Recall Training
Puppy recall should be one of the first things you teach your new puppy. Without it your dog will never be able to leave the leash in the park and you stand little chance of catching him on the street.
Puppy recall is essential for you and your puppy. But it can be frustrating if you don’t understand the process of getting your puppy to understand what you want.
How Long Does Recall Training Take?
It can be frustrating at times but it might surprise you to find out that it can be achieved within a couple of weeks and your puppy will start to come to you when called.
The key is persistence and patience and your dream of total recall will come true!
How to Train a Puppy to Come Back
The recall training process needs to be done in two stages and by the end of it you will be able to use a command to have your puppy recall. This command could be a word or a whistle, or anything really but just make sure you don’t mind shouting it in the park!
Most people choose commands like ‘come here’ or ‘here’. It needs to be consistent, you need to use the same command every time.
When trying to get a puppy to recall, most people simply try to shout their puppy and will them to come back…This rarely works, your dog doesn’t have a clue what you want.
Puppies learn by linking actions to commands so if you shout your puppy while he is chewing a stick in the garden, how will he link the command to running to you?
Puppy recall needs to be done in two stages.
The first recall stage tells your puppy that running towards humans is great! By the time stage one is finished your puppy will think that running towards you is the best thing in the world.
The second stage links a command to the action of running towards you and hopefully your puppy will learn this and link the action of running towards you with your chosen command.
Stage 1 Of Recall Training
Stage 1 involves you teaching your puppy that running towards you is good news for him.
He needs to feel that running towards you is the best thing in the world, so you need to reward him when he does it.
Luckily puppies love to run towards humans and they love to chase you. They see it as a game. Its important not to call anything out to your puppy, but just run away from him and hopefully he runs towards you, if he does reward him with a nice cuddle or even a nice treat. You need to make it rewarding for him to run to you.
By the end of stage one your puppy will follow you and whenever you walk away he will run towards you. He might get distracted and let you walk away from him. If he looks like he doesn’t mind you walking away during the training, you need to squeak a toy or start running to get him to chase you. Again, when he comes to you make a BIG fuss.
No matter what happens in this stage, you should not use your recall command or whistle.
Stage one doesn’t usually take too long. A week or so of daily training will have your puppy running towards you whenever he see’s you.
NEVER CHASE YOUR PUPPY. If he runs off, turn around and try and get him to walk towards you again. Don’t get me wrong, your puppy does love to be chased but this isn’t what you want him to do so DON’T LET ANYBODY CHASE HIM!
Continue with stage 1 training until your puppy walks towards you whenever you move away from him.
Stage 2 Recall Training
During stage 2 you need your puppy to link your command to the process of running towards you.
The key to puppy recall is to only give your command when he is running towards you. Don’t shout him if he isn’t already running towards you otherwise he won’t be able to link the command to the action of running to you.
Put your puppy down and walk away from him, putting a little bit of distance between you. Your puppy will likely run towards you. If he does say your command ONCE just before he reaches you. When he reaches you reward him with lots of cuddles and tasty treats. Food is a great incentive for any animal and it surprises most people how quickly puppies will pick this up.
Its extremely important not to keep repeating the command and to only use it when he is already running towards you.
You will need to practice stage 2 a few times a day to make the command reliable. And in fact you should say the command every time he is running towards you.
This is the beginning of puppy recall.
Taking it to the next level
The next step is to get your puppy to respond to your command even if he isn’t running towards you.
Put your puppy on the floor and start walking away to get a bit of space between you and him.
Give your command before he starts to run towards you and then run away. If you have followed the previous stages he should run after you. Whenhe reaches you hand him some cuddles and treats.
You will need to practice this a couple times a day for a week before he reliably chases after you every time.
Once your puppy is running after you every time you can move onto the next step. The next step is having him chase you when you simply give the command.
Stand a few meters away from your puppy…Stand perfectly still and give your command. Your puppy should run to you. When he does be sure to reward him however you see fit, but it needs to be good to strengthen the fact that he has done something really great. If he doesn’t run towards you then immediately run away and clap your hands and get him to chase after you again, work on the previous step some more, then try again in a few days.
Once you get to this stage you should be able to have your puppy recall if there are no other distractions…..Getting him to recall no matter what is another level altogether, but it is possible and is called proofing.
Proofing is basically cementing your training into the puppies mind and making sure that he knows that these commands apply all the time, even when there are distractions around and even when he would rather be playing in the park or sniffing around other dogs. Proofing is difficult and takes time.
Initially your training will be in the quiet of your garden with no distractions but to truly train your puppy to recall whatever the circumstances you need to gradually introduce more and more distractions while training him until the point where it doesn’t matter what is going on he will come back to you.
It is difficult but definitely worthwhile. Put the effort in now and have your puppy come back to you every time.