Daily walks are pivotal to a dog’s mental and physical well-being. From expending excess energy, providing mental stimulation and improving overall health, there are endless health benefits. However, it only takes a split second to go from an ordinary walk to a potentially dangerous and life-threatening situation for your dog.
Even if you think your dog is perfectly behaved, the reactivity of other dogs will always be unpredictable. Whether another dog attacks because they’re anxious or whether it’s a defensive action, it is imperative that you have a reliable recall. If a dog owner doesn’t have a recall, it is strongly advised that they don’t walk their dog off lead.
On top of this, recall isn’t only utilised for the safety of your own dog, it’s also used to safeguard the wellbeing of other dogs. It’s unfair for your dog to run up to another dog that is on lead as that dog is most likely on lead for a reason – usually because it’s aggressive or anxious. The dog on lead could also be undergoing training, and your dog running up to it could have adverse effects on the dog’s progress, creating more fear/anxiety and making it harder to train.
The importance of a reliable recall isn’t limited to interactions with other dogs – if your dog runs into the road or is in an area with larger, threatening animals, recall can be used to avert these dangerous situations. In contrast, your dog may be the one creating a threatening situation – it’s easy to forget that our lovable best friends can be deadly in the wrong circumstance.
So, what is a recall command?
A reliable recall is one of the most valuable tools at a dog owner’s disposal; it’s the ability to give a verbal or visual cue to your dog to come to you and they reliably respond. It’s important to remember that it is not classed as a recall if your dog does not respond under distractions – the power of the recall command comes in being able to execute the command under any circumstance, regardless of any stressors in the environment.
How does it work?
Recall is a skill learned just like any other, through repetition. You are connecting neurons in your dog’s brain that links the action of the recall with the positive outcome of praise or a treat. When introducing recall to your dog, it’s best to start in a familiar environment with minimal distractions, ensuring you’re clear and consistent throughout the process. After multiple training sessions your dog will be more responsive to the command, and you can now begin the proofing process (more info in this article: https://www.platinumk9.com/top-tips-on-behaviour-training-for-dogs/). The proofing process is paramount for recall commands as you’re most likely to be using it in situations with a high-level of distractions which typically makes it more difficult for a dog to respond to commands.
In summary: why a reliable recall is so important
- It can prevent your dog from being attacked by other anxious/aggressive dogs
- It can keep your dog out of dangerous situations such as running into the road or near threatening animals
- It is good courtesy to stop your dog from running up to another dog that is on lead
- It can prevent your dog from attacking other animals/humans
Overall, having a reliable recall is a tool that every dog owner should be equipped with as it is useful in such a variety of contexts, and is a necessity in many scenarios. Take the time to perfect a recall command early on in your dog’s development and it is certain to pay dividends. It’s also a good foundational command as it focuses your dog’s attention on you, which can be helpful in more advanced training down the line.