Building an awesome recall

16 Jan

We’ve found that the single most important command to master for almost all aspects of training is the “come” or “here” command. Not only is this one command critical for obedience and retrieving/hunting, but it also has the potential to save your dog’s life.

There are countless ways to teach a dog to come, but since we aren’t professional trainers, we aren’t going to bore you with different methods. Instead, we want to share some of the techniques and games we’ve been using to teach Ilsa and Gumbo the recall. Our ultimate goal is to have both of them turn on a dime and return straight to us in any environment. Stopping two feet short and running off again or coming in a little to the side is not what we’re trying to accomplish. We want them to come in like rockets directly in front of us.

Yesterday, we had Ilsa and Gumbo off leash running with some other vizslas. I called Gumbo a couple of times, and he came charging at me and knocked me back about four feet (Gumbo doesn’t come with brakes :P). I was so proud because this is the type of recall we are striving for. Of course, within minutes, we encountered a German Shorthaired Pointer and Gumbo was intrigued. I tested him again but without the same results. Looks like we still have work to do…

For recalls, we use the word “here”. Never “come”, never “come here”, only “here”. It’s basically the most sacred word in our dog’s vocabulary. We don’t say it unless we really mean it, and we don’t use it unless we really need to do so (or are training).

One of the games we play to practice recalls involves calling the dog and have them run between our legs to get a treat or a toy. We then turn and repeat multiple times. Ilsa and Gumbo think it is great fun, and it is a highly effective way to teach them what “here” means. By having them run THROUGH our legs rather than stopping directly in front of us, we are trying to teach them to keep their speed up ALL the way to us. We don’t want them to run halfway to us and start slowing down. To demonstrate, we put together a short video to show you how we play this game. Hope you enjoy!


5 Responses to “Building an awesome recall”

  1. 2browndawgs January 16, 2012 at 3:36 PM #

    I have never seen “here” taught that way. Interesting method.

    So how do you get them to stop running past you?

    • Ben January 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM #

      We combine it with the “front” command from rally-o to get them to stop. That’s basically what I’m doing with Ilsa without using a command for it but just luring her. So we’re really trying to break it down into pieces with “here” meaning turn around and get back to me.

      We also use the checkcord and e-collar method to prevent flybys. Probably more conventional for the field.

      • Lindsay January 16, 2012 at 9:31 PM #

        This is great! We have an 8 month old V here in St. Louis and we are working on recall right now. I find it to be challenging! Did you notice a turn after they left puppy-dom in terms of their response to the recall command?

      • Ben January 16, 2012 at 10:16 PM #

        Another V in St. Louis… how fantastic! An 8 month old V challenging?!? We are shocked! 😉 We’ve found that keeping the sessions short and fun makes training a young dog easier on everyone. We’ve played games like these with Gumbo since he was a puppy, and his attention span has increased as he’s matured. Maybe one or two 5 minute sessions a day and build from there. Silly puppies are easily distracted so be patient and just keep it fun!


  1. Expanding the recall with whistle training « A Tail of Two Vizslas - January 18, 2012

    […] in doing field work with Ilsa and Gumbo, we’ve realized the importance of skills like a basic recall. However, in the field, their distance away from can increase greatly. Plus, they are intensely […]

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