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Dog Recall Tactics: Getting Your Dog to Come Inside

Dog Recall Tactics: Getting Your Dog to Come Inside

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You let your dog out to do their business, knowing you have to leave soon. They meander around, sniff a couple of things, check for squirrels then do their business. You call them in and… nothing. You think, ‘Maybe they didn’t hear me’ and you call them in again. And still… nothing. So you go out to collect them and, they immediately move away, staying just out of reach. You engage in a game of cat and mouse until you look up and realize, ‘Now I’m late!’ 

Yes, if you think you are the only one who experiences this, that is far from the truth. It’s a situation that we hear about all the time. “My dog’s recall is great, but when I call them to come inside, they immediately move in the other direction!” It’s a common and frustrating problem but there is a solution! But before we get to that, let’s talk about why that happens.

Dogs are masters of association. They are always observing and learning. It doesn’t take much for our dogs to learn what works for them and what doesn’t. When your dog is loose in their yard they have freedom. Freedom to sniff, freedom to forage, freedom to roam. All of those things are important to our dogs. Often though, those opportunities don’t come as often as they would like. Inside, there is much left to sniff, foraging is often highly discouraged outside(for good reason) and roaming is at a minimum. Dogs with freedom in their yard quickly can learn that once they leave the yard to come in, fun ends. Think of why we call them inside. To go to bed, to hop onto the computer if we work from home or to leave for the day to go to work. Many of us rarely call them inside to do something fun. Yes sometimes it might be for breakfast, but more often it’s for something that they don’t want to do. It’s because of that, they learn to ignore us when we call them inside. Luckily enough though, there is a well-trodden path forward. That path, as many do in dog training, starts with a management plan. In this case, it can be a very very simple one. Use a long line.

Happy dog in fenced yard coming when he is called with a ball in his mouth

Now as with most management plans, this is one we put in place while we train to prevent our dogs from practicing bad habits. In this case, that means, avoiding giving them the chance to ignore and avoid us. A long line is simple, it’s a very long leash, preferably attached to a harness. They come in different sizes and materials but we recommend 15 to 30 feet. Here are two different long lines that we recommend. A long line works because if your dog isn’t responding, you can simply collect the leash and reel them in. Taking away the option to run away and ignore us. A long line alone won’t change your dog’s behavior though. For that, we need to change our behavior.

dog at the sliding glass door after coming inside when called

The answer to changing your dog’s behavior is a simple one. Make coming inside worth their while. Avoid patterns of calling them inside, only to put them in their crate and leave. Give yourself extra time. When you call them in, make sure you have time for them to do something they love. Play for a bit. Train some fun tricks. Give them a special enrichment toy to interact with or a few treats scattered on the floor. Make them want to come in. If the fun ends when they come inside, they will stop coming inside. If fun happens when they come inside. Soon enough they will race inside as soon as you call them. 

Want to increase their reliability even more? When you do call your dog to come inside from the yard, reward them and then, send them right back out. Remember, dogs are masters of association. They likely know by now that coming does lead to the end of freedom. But what if it didn’t? What if “Come!” was merely an enjoyable game for your dog that only sometimes led to the end of freedom? We can change the script and help your dog enjoy returning to you!

A final word on this key behavior. You need to be able to get your dog to return to you. It’s critical not just to their well-being but to their safety as well. Now if you have a fenced yard it may seem less critical but what if I told you that I’ve had clients whose dog treed a bear inside their fenced yard? Or in another case, the dogs went out into their yard to find a possum just enjoying the deck. Yes, these things do indeed happen! Let’s work together to be prepared for the unexpected- Train your dog the emergency recall cue! Just the other day Piper took off after a herd of deer at once Louise could collect herself enough to say her cue, and Piper pranced right on back like nothing had happened. Hard to believe I know, but with consistency and the right training plan we know you and your dog can do it! That’s why we’re giving away our training plan on emergency recall. It’s totally free if you want it! Click here to sign up and get the lesson plan and tutorial video delivered right to your inbox. 

So there you have it, some simple steps to take to change a common problem. A fenced-in yard can change a dog’s life for the better, that is true! Don’t let that amazing thing turn into a nightmare, make it worth their time to listen to you and you will reap the benefits. 

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