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Reliable recall

Spring is here!  Are you enjoying some fabulous walks with your four legged friends?  Can you let your dog off the lead?  Having a dog that you can let off lead and who will come back when called increases the quality of walks immensely, for you both.  We have added a **free video** lesson to teach that all-important recall. And scroll down the page to find a recipe for yummy liver cake!

Teaching a reliable recall is one of the most valuable skills your dog can learn.  He has the enjoyment of running free and it may just one day save his life.  Recall has several components: your dog must break off from an engaging activity, orientate towards you and return without deviating.  His reward needs to be strong enough to compete with the environment.  Our dogs usually come to us at home when called because there are fewer distractions, they get something tasty such as their dinner or taken for a walk.

There are a number of reasons for a poor recall.  These include being put straight back on the lead, reprimanded for running off or conflicting environmental pleasures such as dogs to play with, squirrels to chase and scents to follow.  Some breeds may be harder to teach due to their genetics – a hound following a scent can be very single minded indeed!

To teach your dog to return enthusiastically use highly scented treats – homemade liver or sardine cake are firm favourites!  Frankfurter sausages and cheese are also good. Bowling the food along the ground for your dog to chase makes the reward more interesting.  Scattering a handful of food on the ground as your dog returns and searching for it together adds value.  If your dog isn’t food orientated, use play as your reward.  Always have two balls or tugs and encourage him back with the one in your possession.  If you fail to keep reinforcing a good recall, environmental rewards become more enticing. If your dog is unlikely to return, please practice recall using a long line.

Pair your food (or play) with a sound such as a whistle. This carries further than voice, is only used for recall, is consistent and has no emotional attachment to its delivery.  At home blow the whistle during feeding or playing until your dog is anticipating a reward on hearing the whistle.  When you take this ‘on the road’, remember to practice on every walk and call your dog back often.   You now have the beginnings of a great recall!

Liver/Sardine cake

1Lb (450g) liver
 or 1 large can sardines
8oz  (225g) wholemeal flour
8oz (225g) Porridge oats (can substitute 50% for All Bran)
3 eggs
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. Place liver/sardines, garlic, eggs and oil in food processor. Blend to smooth consistency.
  2. Pour into bowl. Mix in flour and porridge oats/All Bran. Mixture should be reasonably firm consistency – add more flour/water if necessary.
  3. Pour into well-greased loaf tin.   Bake at 180 degrees for 25 – 35 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool. Divide into portions – freezes well. For training, chop into ½ – 1 cm sized squares.