We celebrated National Dog Day in style here at Mersea Mutts – Dog Boarding and Training Centre, Colchester.
There were a couple of extra rewards for our furry friends during training and just a few more treats for our fun-loving guests who were staying with us.
This week, I saw something that reminded me of the importance of recall. I was out walking with Flo, Millie and our guests and saw a lady shouting at her dog for him to come back. Her dog wasn’t responding as he was busy chasing another dog. The lady started swinging the lead and then hit him with it. Whilst I understand that panic – how you want to be sure your dog will come when you call, for their safety – this won’t work. If I were that dog, I would not go back to her if that was what was in store. It is ineffective and so unnecessary.
Anyone who knows me – customers, friends or family – will know that this made me uncomfortable. Dogs will do a perfect recall if they know that there is something nice to go back for – something fun like a treat or hugs or favourite toy. They will not go back to a grumpy owner who is going to tell them off.
I do believe that recall is the most important thing you can teach your dog. It means that they can have fun, exercise as much as they want and explore at their own pace, with enough freedom to stimulate them, while you can relax more, knowing that they are safe.
Both sides of Mersea Mutts’ dog boarding and training, Colchester use rewards as a way of encouraging desired behaviour. We know it works. And we know it means happy pets and happy owners.
When it comes to recall, we firstly need to make sure that our dog knows his name, ensuring it becomes a reflex; once achieved we can start charging the word ‘come’ or ‘here’. Charging a word means associating it with good things; an easy way to do this is by using a treat to feed into the dog’s mouth as you say the word. After a few times the dog will understand that the word is associated with good things.
Keeping the dog on a long line to start with, we let him run around and investigate the area; once he is a short distance away we say his name and the word ‘come’ or ‘here’. For example: ‘Fluffy come,’ as we bop down close to the floor. As the pup gets to you, it’s important to make a fuss thus rewarding the behaviour. The more you reward on every good recall the more likely it is to happen. Once you are certain that you have both mastered recall, you can try without a lead on. First practise in the garden, then out in the big bad world.
Practise is necessary and lots of it; in various places – though it really is absolutely essential to make sure that before you take his lead off, you are completely satisfied he will come back to you when you call.
Recall should be done regularly throughout a walk not just at the end, as pup will quickly learn that a recall means home time and will not want to come back. If there are two of you then a recall back and forth between 2 people can become a fun game and extremely rewarding for the pup.
Us Mersea Mutts folk have been enjoying the Cats v Dogs programmes over the last couple of weeks. It never fails to make us smile when our four-legged guests, Millie or Flo cock their head to the side on hearing a fellow canine bark or whine on the TV. It always looks to me like a row of HMV dogs, all lined up.