Working up to Recall – How Rove gets your dog off-lead

Happy Bulldog on a Long Line

Posted On January 21, 2020

You know Rove love getting your dogs out on a walk, ever wondered how we get them off lead? Well….

At Rove, we encourage controlled off lead walks. Believing that it is the best exercise they’ll get, that they engage with the walk more, and that (generally) it allows the dogs to get the space they need should they need it – so it’s an all round win. 

But what if your dog doesn’t have good recall? Not always an issue! So, to get on a group walk, we will always work with your dog on recall (and sometimes give you homework, so be prepared…) this is to ensure that your dog responds to your walker and allows the walker to have confidence that your dog will listen reliably when we ask. This process is to ensure that all the dogs on our walk understand the expectations Rove need to keep them safe. 

So! This lovely little blog piece is here to show you, and give you confidence in how we achieve it! So that when the time comes, we can discuss methodologies and you can totally understand the approach we’re taking.

How do we do it? There’s a range of approaches! And our dogs get at least one, or a combination of a few.

1 – Focus, Focus, Focus.
This is the basis for ALL training, doesn’t matter where you’re starting or where you’re going, if your dog cannot focus, your dog won’t be consistent. So we work on response to name, and delay rewards to hold focus, and a number of other exercises! Why not follow our Pinterest Boards to see our focus and impulse control board!)

2 – Capitalise on Boring!
You need to work, initially, in a boring situation. In the house is a perfect place to start. Your dog is there all day, all night, it’s the most ‘boring’ spot (typically, maybe do it when the kids are in bed, when the house is nice and calm), then up it to the garden! Keep working on focus and recall, and make sure to reward. But the point of this part is to minimise distractions and build them up slowly. We may not use your house or garden (We do for puppies!) but the ethos is the same.

3 – High value treats
Each dog will have a high value treat – but it’s not the same for everyone! Chicken, cheese, hotdogs, sometimes biscuits! Or even if your dog isn’t food orientated we might try toys initially for response! And some of those toys can be the Tug-E-Nuff line, which are fantastic and you can expect a proper review on soon.

4 – Work on a Long line
This is a fantastic option for dogs who are close to being off lead but aren’t quite reliable on their decisions yet. It gives them the freedom to roam a bit, but it also gives your walker (or you!) the ability to counter them and contain them again if distractions become too much. Particularly love Biothane lines for this, especially in the damp weather, they’re very strong, lightweight and very easy to clean!

5 – Positive Influences
This is one I love to use. Dogs have a naturally competitive side most of the time, so if I bring one of my less focused dogs with one of my fantastically reliable recallers usually, they’ll kind of go “Hey! Where are you going?! I’ll go with you!” and then they come back, then they see their buddy sit and get a treat and they’ll be encouraged to replicate… wonderful huh?

6 – Quiet/Secure fields
This is something like the Boring part in step 2, because what we get here is a big space where there’s a lot of option for them to do stuff that we don’t want them to do, but in a safe enough setting that we know they’re going to eventually come back, or they have little other option with a little time. It’s helpful to train, I promise!

7 – One to one walks
Sometimes other dogs are just too interesting and we’ll need more time working with them, this is kind of a last resort, but if they really struggle to focus, we’ll work together for a little longer and hopefully between Owner & walker, we’ll get your wonderful woof there! 

Whilst these work wonderfully for us, they can also work great for you too! Recall is so very important for dogs, whether you are respecting the lead, or whether you’re avoiding a potential hazard – a reliable recall is something every dog should have – even if they’re only ever walked on a leash! 

I hear you raising a brow and pulling a face there, the question in your head is, “Huh? Why?”… and you’re right! Why on earth would a dog who is always lead-walked need recall? Well, I’m a worst case scenario person, always, and what if the lead breaks or your dog slips it’s collar? Truthfully, what do you think your dogs thoughts are going to be? Well, provided they’re still young enough, it’s almost certainly going to be something to the affect of …*ahem*  “I…? I’m Free? FREEEEEDOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!” And they’re going to run around like a lunatic, and you are too as you desperately try and get Fido back… See my point? Teach everyone recall, it’s your back ups, back ups, back up. 

If you’re wondering how to improve your dog’s recall? Try Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy (not just for puppies, I promise!). Why not check out the Rove Review of Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy by Steve Mann. He’s full of useful ways of ensuring fantastic recall! Just remember not all dogs learn at the same pace, so be patient!

If you want more out of your walks, work on recall. Please. It’s part of why our Rove Family love their walks so much, with time, consistency and patience you can get it on your walks too!

So, if you want your dog off lead and enjoying our walks? Lets see if Rove can work with you and your woofit to get them out walking and enjoying some responsible off lead time! Get in touch, and let’s see what we can do!

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