Summer is on its way, and that means that everyone is going to be at the park with their dog. We’re going to be camping, hiking, and fishing . It’s fun to take our dogs along too!
Many people want to take their dogs on these adventures off-leash, and unfortunately most of these people shouldn’t. Have you ever been out in public and had a dog run right up to you? Usually the owner is calling out “Don’t worry, he’s friendly!” That doesn’t matter. What if I were terrified of dogs or allergic to them? What if my dog wasn’t friendly?
For these reasons, it’s never appropriate for a dog to run up to someone, even at a dog park. It’s dangerous and shows bad manners. Hopefully you understand this concept, and will abide by this during this summer.
If you want to take your dog off-leash, it must have a good recall. Our favorite way to train for a solid, reliable recall is to do some e-collar training. Of course, I’d recommend that you hire us to do this with your dog, or that you buy our DVD programs that teach you how to do this. But if that isn’t in your budget and you still want a great off-leash recall, here are a few simple steps to help you get there. You have to do this in a way that’s safe and respectful of others.
You’ll need a 20-30 foot leash, some treats or food, and a very, very long time. This training requires a lot of repetitions! Let’s say that I wanted to create a reflex in you, based on the word “come.” I might say that word and then flick you immediately. I would do that over and over. All I’ve ever done is flick you, but in a short period of time I will have created a reflex in you. When I say “come,” you’ll probably flinch.
Most dog commands shouldn’t be reflexive. In other words, you don’t want to have your dog rushing to sit or falling into a down stay. It’s all right for them to think about the command for a little while. But you absolutely want the recall command to be reflexive. Think about it: if your dog is rushing toward the street and a car is coming, you don’t want him to spend a lot of time thinking. You want him to react immediately. You want him to have a reflex.
I usually choose a different word from the typical “come” command you use around the house. Choose a special word that you only use in this situation. For the sake of this example, let’s say that I’m using the word “here.”
With the dog on the long leash, I would give the command “here,” flick the leash, and then trot backward a few steps. When the dog comes, I give him food. I’ll repeat this over and over and over—in the backyard, at the park, at the campsite, at the fishing grounds, and where
I’ll do this hundreds of times with one hundred percent consistency. That means that the dog never hears the word “here” without feeling the flick afterward until you’ve done hundreds of repetitions.
If you do this 794 times and your dog is doing great, then take off the leash. When you do it for the 795th time, then your dog won’t even think about the command. He’ll already be on his way to get his treat.
It’s as simple as that—but it isn’t easy. Few dogs have good recall because few owners are willing to put in 812 (or 1,032) repetitions that it will take to train their dog. The method is simple, but getting that number of repetitions is hard.
But if you want great recall, now you know: that’s all you need to do!