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Recall Rescue: 3 Techniques to Bring Your Dog Back Safely


Recall Rescue: 3 Techniques to Bring Your Dog Back Safely

Imagine that you call your dog to come, but they don't listen. You are out with your dog, you’ve done your training, they’ve earned your trust, and you have decided to take them for an off-leash jaunt. They had been doing amazing, responding when you called them to come and sticking close by. Then, you are faced with a distraction that you hadn’t planned for. Something that is just about too tempting for your dog, something that has caught you both off guard. You call your dog to come and they don’t, they are moving away from you. Most people’s instinct is to continue calling them, often with a more and more frantic tone while moving towards them. Makes sense right? If I keep calling they will eventually turn around and come. And if they don’t at least I can catch up and grab them. 


More often than not though, calling your dog more frantically while racing in their direction will just push them further away. It’s a pretty hopeless feeling, watching your dog continue away from you, unheeding of your pleas for them to return. That feeling gets even worse if you see they are headed toward another dog, a porcupine, or probably the worst of all, toward traffic. It may be a hopeless feeling, but it isn’t a hopeless situation. There are things that you can do to get your dog to come back to you. Things that might not pop into your head if you’ve never thought about it before or been told about it by someone you trust. If you find yourself in this situation in the future, here are some things you can try.


How to get your dog back when they run away

Make yourself more inviting.

Moving towards your dog with a stern voice can cause your dog to try to avoid you. If you can get your dog’s attention but they are still moving away from you, try to make yourself as inviting as possible. Go down onto your knees, open your arms, and cheer your dog on. Inviting them with a high, fun, and happy voice. Your dog is much more likely to run to you while you are in this position. Sometimes that isn’t quite enough though. You can also try bending over and loudly talking about how interesting the spot right in front of you is, even digging at the spot. This can trigger your dog’s curiosity when they come over to see what all the fuss is. Remember, unless you have to, don’t try to reach out and grab your dog as it can lead them to run away again. When they come to investigate, drop some treats on the ground as you leash them up.


Run in the other direction.

This one might feel wrong, but trust me, it works! This is another one for situations where you can get your dog to look your way but not come. Running in the opposite direction while clapping and cheering will trigger your dog to come running after you. They don’t want to be left alone, dogs love a good game of chase, plus this action is usually so out of character that your dog just has to investigate. Once they catch up with you, play around, throw a stick for them, or drop a bunch of treats on the ground before leashing them up.


Running in the opposite direction while clapping and cheering will trigger your dog to come running after you.

Treat toss.

If you can’t even get your dog to look at you, a well-aimed treat toss can be all you need. Try to aim so it rains down on and around them. So often all we need to do is break that concentration. Once that is broken, it’s like your dog says ‘Oh yeah! I forgot you were there!’ As with the above suggestions, stay calm, stay positive, and keep your dog excited to see you. When our emotions get the better of us, we are so much more likely to push our dogs further away from us. 


If you are in these situations, never hesitate to act goofy. Anyone who has taken a class with me has heard me say ‘If your neighbors think you are weird, you are training your dog well.’ Yes, running away cheering, or talking to a spot on the ground might sound a little embarrassing, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of your dog.


No, you’ve collected your dog and they’ve shown you that freedom hasn’t quite been earned. We recommend “leash probation.” Keep them on their long leash (more on that here) and keep training for that rapid recall. See our blog here for more info. 


Having an emergency cue if you find yourself up the creek without a paddle, can be a lifesaver for situations like these. In our 3 part training series we’ll coach you on a few skills but one of them is the emergency recall! This skill is worth its weight in gold, sign up so you can grab these valuable lessons and be more prepared for the distractions life throws at you. Click here to enroll for free now.


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