I had an email today from someone asking me for tips regarding getting their dog back to the car after an off-lead walk. I thought it would make a good blog post so here is my response:
“Thanks for your message. The obvious answer is improved recall but I suspect you’ve tried that if you’ve had this problem for five years. That would be the most effective and thorough solution but as I’m sure you know, recall is the pinnacle of basic obedience and pretty much requires everything else to be sorted, and for you to have developed the relationship you have with your dog, so that they feel that they want to recall. It’s easy to teach a dog what the word ‘come’ actually means, but takes a lot more time and patience to have them recall whenever you ask.
My style of training incorporates a section called Developing Mutual Trust which would help with recall. You also have to have a good solid foundation of obedience within the home first, then with all other on-lead commands outside and around heavy distraction, before you can reasonably expect your dog to respond to recall when engaged with a distraction.
The other option is of course, to get your dog back on the lead before you start the journey back to the car….BUT…be careful! You don’t want your dog to associate the lead with ‘the end of fun’ otherwise you could make their recall worse. Spend a few days or a week calling your dog over, clipping the lead on, walking for a short time (10 secs – 2 mins depending on your dog) before releasing them to carry on playing/exploring. Try to change direction randomly and praise/treat them for staying focused on you as you alter direction. Make it a fun, rewarding game and then release them. Once they expect to have fun when the lead goes on, you can start to do it on the way back to the car.”
Watch out for the next post…