Dog Accident Prevention through Recall Training

Many times, a dog accident can be prevented with simple training. If your dog gets loose, he could run into traffic or toward an aggressive dog or frightened child. To prevent this, teach your dog to come when you call him the first time, every time.

Teaching Recall

To teach recall, start with your dog on a 6-foot leash and a big pocket of treats. You're training a response that will become almost like muscle memory, so you have to start small, practice a lot and set your dog up to succeed.

Toss a treat away from you so your dog has to turn away from you to get it. Don't teach it from a sit-stay because if your dog is running down the street, he's not in a sit-stay.

Run a couple steps backward while saying your dog's name excitedly. Do not say "come" yet. He doesn't know what it means.

When your dog gets to you, hold a treat directly above his nose so he sits. As he sits, say "come." Give more treats, lots of praise and bend over him to pet around his collar. This will teach him that recall is the best behavior ever. It will also teach him to accept you grabbing his collar, which you will have to do if he gets loose.

Once he is turning as soon as he hears his name, start saying "Come" early in the command.

Tips to Remember

Don't use the word "come" if you're not confident he's going to do it. Don't practice it at the dog park or when he's chasing a squirrel until he's done it correctly hundreds of times. If he hears the word and doesn't respond, he learns that he can ignore it if something better is happening.

Recall should always be positive. If he only hears it when you're leaving the dog park or he's chasing a squirrel, he isn't going to do it. Thus, if you're at the dog park, call him 15 times where you just give him a treat and send him back to play before you leave.

If your dog does get away, when he finally comes back, you have to reward him. Even though you've been chasing him for 20 minutes, he finally did listen, so if you punish him when he gets back to you, you just punished him for coming.

Be sure to practice the recall at your front door where he has to turn around and run back toward the house. This is where owners need it the most.

Proofing Recall

Once he's doing it perfectly around the house and yard as well as different environments on a 6-foot leash, you're ready for the next level. Start practicing on a 30-foot leash (not a rectractible) in a variety of environments. This is the bridge between 6-foot leash and off-leash control.

Once he's reliable in familiar environments, start taking him to increasingly harder environments, such as parks and trails. When you can call him off of any distraction, including dogs, people and other critters, with the leash every time, he's ready for off-leash control.

Having this type of reliable control on your dog will prevent a number of accidents, which could be dangerous to your dog or others. With practice, you can have a dog that comes every time.