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Do You Have A PhD Level Recall?

When you break it down, the recall behaviour is a fairly simple sequence of events..

  1. Respond to recall cue (give handler attention)
  2. Return to handler
  3. Come close enough to have collar taken
  4. Take reward from handler
  5. Release dog to play again

My preference is always a strong sound cue – be that verbal or whistle. 

I’m not a fan of big open arms waving at the dog as a recall cue. 

Simply because in my experience the time when people want the dog to come back is when the dog is turned away from them!

I also want to make sure that my recall cue is a request to the dog, and not me offering them something.

E.g. “What’s this?” said in a squeaky, hopeful voice v. “Come here” said in a confident, instructional way.

To have confidence to let my dogs off, my recall cue has to be non-negotiable.

This is for their safety, and for anyone (person or animal) that we come across too.

But too often dogs get in trouble for ignoring recall cues when they haven’t received the appropriate level of training.

Here’s the education scale I have in my head with the dogs & people I work with:

  1. Reception
  2. Primary
  3. Secondary
  4. Sixth form/ college
  5. University
  6. Post Graduate/ PhD

Bit silly? Maybe!

But helpful to put recall questions into perspective.

Here’s an example:

Reception level understanding

Dog has practised their recall at home in the living room, about 10 times, and had approx. 10 treats. Dog comes back eagerly each time they’re called, looking for their treat for being a good dog!

PhD level understanding

Dog taken out to local dog walking area, picture the scene 

  • Lots of other dogs
  • Trees with squirrels
  • Children playing with a football
  • Cyclists whizzing past
  • Joggers running past

When the dog is let off the lead there is so much to see and do!

What does the dog do when their person calls them?

No prizes for guessing this one!

If the dog even turns around at the sound of their name, I’d be very impressed!

Bad dog?


Just needs a better education to be able to answer a question of this level of difficulty.

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