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Off Leash Recall: Why K9 Obedience Dog Training is Important

Is your dog ignoring you when you let them off leash while you're on a walk, or are they refusing to come back when you ask them? Maybe your dog training has been perfect in the home, but everything falls apart as soon as you leave the house.

Recall problems are prevalent for new dog owners and experienced dog trainers. In this article, I'm going to help you understand the root of your unwanted dog problems so you can solve your problems once and for all.

Suki and Flash, are sister Borgi's who have received Tulsa dog training services from A Peaceful Pack.  They participate in our Off Leash Nature Walks on our 180 acre ranch!
Suki and Flash are sister Borgi's who have received Tulsa dog training services from A Peaceful Pack. They participate in our Off Leash Nature Walks on our 180-acre ranch!

If you are new to A Peaceful Pack, we are dog trainers specializing in obedience and behavioral dog training in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A unique term we use to classify our work is "Canine Rehabilitation and Behavior Modification Specialists."

Our mission and purpose are to help as many of you become calm, consistent, confident canine leaders capable of living and raising perfect canine companions. So if you want to join our fantastic canine family, subscribe to our newsletter for blog releases and follow us on our social media for future content.

Owners & Trainers Struggle With Recall

If you haven't got your dog yet and you're reading this article because you want to set yourself up for success in terms of recall preemptively, congratulations, because that is precisely the approach you need to take. In our dog Boarding & Training Programs, that is how we teach clients from day one how to get recall mastered perfectly the first time around.

If you are reading this, it is because you've got it wrong somewhere along the way, or the current training methods are just not working. Whether you have purchased a puppy from a breeder, rescue dogs, or adopted an adult dog from a shelter.

You may be in the same situation many of our previous clients struggled with: your dog is ignoring you and not coming back to you when you ask, and now it's time to find training classes, a course, or new dog trainers.

We've had dog owners come from all walks of life, with dogs of all breeds and ages, and 80% of the time, their dogs are "good" at recalling inside the home... but when it's time to leave the house, they can't trust their dog to come for the life of them.

Obedience and Leadership Training Go Hand-In-Hand

After acquiring the neccesary communication skills, Molly's owners can now enroll their Portuguese water dog in sport classes.
After acquiring the necessary communication skills, Molly's owners can now enroll their Portuguese water dog in sports classes.

Our belief for the canine recall is that it kind of stems from two things, really: Obedience & Leadership. This knowledge is taught in our group class, where we discuss obedience and leadership issues in depth and bring our focus to those areas for stronger communication.

Before we dig too deep, please understand that not all dogs are the same, and there may be other underlying issues at play for your dog. That is why it is crucial to have a behavioralist discuss and assess your dogs' problems at the core before you invest in group classes, private training, or board and train options.

We offer free assessment and consultation calls to dig deeper into your dogs' unwanted behaviors to accomplish our mission. We are the go-to dog trainer in Tulsa for training beyond obedience. Contact us or book a free call here.

Your Dog Decides What's Valuable

When clients train dogs, an obedience issue means that the command you've trained to get your dog back to you isn't ingrained enough. It is often either because of obedience, leadership, or both. Imagine it as a Venn Diagram that bridges both issues.

Your dog understands what you mean by your recall command - whether it's "come," "here," or whatever it is you use. It knows what it means, but your dog is deciding to ignore you because whatever is over there is far more exciting and more important or interesting to them. You are making a request rather than a command.

Then the other side of the issue that often essentially goes hand-in-hand with both problems is leadership. Your dog might have the best obedience training in the world and a detailed understanding of a recall command, but now, your dog is just saying, "Nah, mom, I don't want to listen to you."

A blatant disrespect or obvious choice to blow you off is the most common issue dog owners encounter: a lack of leadership. Your dog doesn't respect you as a calm, consistent leader, and your dog feels that it can make decisions for itself and doesn't have to listen to your guidance.

Our Tulsa dog training programs include puppy classes!
Our Tulsa dog training programs include puppy classes!

Where Do You Stand As A Dog Trainer?

We've begun to bring this topic to the mainstream for discussion because, as a trainer and owner, you need to understand that dog training and k9 rehabilitation or behavior modification are two very different worlds.

Frequently the problem is when those worlds merge, and that's where these arguments and debates come from- about the best way to train or deal with either problem behaviors or problem obedience issues.

Obedience Training

Obedience usually fits into the realm of "dog training," and we believe that in that world, training works best exclusively with positive-only approaches. There is more room for classical conditioning, and skills are introduced in this phase so we can create a line of communication.

Behavior Modification & Rehabilitation

Then, we also have the other side of the problem, when we lack leadership, which fits into the behavior modification world that often takes more of a balanced approach to fix. This is when trainers use more operant conditioning to train your dog. Your dog's ability to perform a specific command in new environments and situations.

Depending on behavioral issues like recall, at the core, we say you often need both strong obedience and leadership, regardless of the debate.

Balanced Dog Training opens the door to an amazing well structured life
Balanced Dog Training opens the door to an amazing well structured life

The problem is, if you go to an owner or trainer who only represents the positive world, you will get a very positive answer to the problem, which, unfortunately, rarely works when we're talking about the recall command.

If you go to the balanced, more behaviorist approach, they often are so sick of being attacked by the positive only people that they then go into this war of debating each other off, and then no progress is made, and that's what we don't like to do here.

We like to educate people that these are two very different worlds and both have their merits, neither are wrong, but it's just like a toolbox. You need to have many tools in your toolbox and choose the right tool for the right job.

Balanced Dog Training Brings Accountability

If you're struggling with recall issues and you take a positive-only approach to create and manage desired behaviors, what you're doing is going into a bribery approach with your pet.

You're asking your pet to come, usually, for a food reward, and what you then need to do is you are going into a battle with your dog. You're hoping or banking on the fact that your bribery has a higher value than the thing that they're ignoring you for in the first place.

So if they're off playing with other dogs and you want them to come back to you, your bribery has to be a higher value than the implied value of them ignoring you to stay playing with that other pet.

That is where the general positive-only training approach breaks down because there's only so much high-end steak that you can go for before your dog says, "Nah, I still don't want that steak. I'd rather play with this dog," and very quickly that breaks down and becomes a null and void response to fix the recall issue.

On the other hand, the approach that we like to take is that: you want to have a dog that looks to you for guidance and respects your leadership so much that they will gladly do everything you ask of them. This is tied to the relationship because you have lovely working leadership and the following relationship with your dog.

That doesn't mean- and this is a lot of the reason why positive only people will accuse people that want to work in more of the realm of balanced dog training - that the dog isn't it coming to you out of fear; it's coming to you out of respect.

It is out of love for your leadership, an eagerness to please, and a drive to work. That's the relationship you want with your pet because if you've got that relationship, you can achieve any level of obedience with your dog with or without rewards. That is authentic dog training for an excellent dog to live its best life with its owner.

It's Your Life. It's Your Dog

We always use food rewards and positive reinforcement when training our dogs to do something new. Then, once they learn that behavior and know we know what we mean, we very quickly remove those treats. After all, we want the dog to do as we say whether we've got a treat or not because we refuse to have a relationship with a dog based on bribery.

Think of this simple analogy: The same way with children, if we are at a park and see our child chasing a ball towards the street, we need to be able to shout at them to stop and come back to us now. We don't want our child to look back and say, "Okay, I'll come back for Chick-Fil-A" or " I'll do it for $20," and if we don't have those on us, they'll say, "All right, nah, I'll go and run off."

In our eyes, that is a very realistic analogy of what it means when dog trainers or owners have a positive only, bribery-based relationship with their canine family member, and that's how it's supposed to work.

Of course, our children wouldn't do that; if we asked them to come back to us, they'd come back to us because we are our kids' leaders. They respect our authority and guidance, and it comes from a place of love of us wanting to keep them safe. It doesn't come from a place of fear, where they are scared of the repercussions.

It becomes from a place of leadership and respect and them doing as we ask of them because we love them, care about them, and want them to be happy and healthy. That's the relationship that we need with our dogs.

The Gateway To Trust

So if you have recall problems, it's a two-stage approach for us. You first need to completely restructure that relationship with your dog and restructure to a point where it's a leader and follower relationship.

A relationship where your dog sees you as a calm, consistent leader. One where your dog can look for guidance in any situation, and it's happy and eager to follow your commands no matter what's going on or how high-value the target or object over there is.

No matter how badly they want it, your dog has to think to itself, "I've been told not to, so I better not," that is the relationship you want with your dog, then when you get that response, that is the point in which you can positively reinforce it as opposed to bribing your dog to do something.

Your dog does it out of love and respect, and then you reinforce that, which is the cherry on top. It solidifies a relationship even higher and makes it an even more significant positive, loving relationship; that is where we want to come out with our dogs.

You and Your Dog Can Do Better

To restructure that relationship, we recommend you put your dog through our Flagship Boarding & Training program or reach out to our team for training solutions involving YOU. Our private or 3-week boarding and training curriculum helps to restructure the relationship. It's the training that we use with 95% of my clients. Many people come to us with issues like this and expect us to give an instant, easy fix, which simply doesn't exist.

We can promise you it doesn't exist because it takes time, commitment, and effort. After all, that relationship is developed, earned, isn't bought, and it's not a bribe. Once you achieve that relationship with your dog, that is how you have a perfect canine companion.

For most behavior issues or simple obedience issues like recall, we teach and train our clients to restructure that relationship. Simply by restructuring that relationship 99% of the time, the problem behaviors fall off anyway.

50% Of Our Job is Dog Training. The Other 50% is Client Training

Our dog training program includes face-to-face training classes at home and in public. This allows for plenty of time for obedience training, food training, and reward-based work that, alongside restructuring the relationship, fixes your problems like recall.

Once that relationship is restructured, or while you go through the process of restructuring that relationship, you'll then be able to focus on recall and lay a foundation for all other desired behaviors.

We re-lay a foundation for your recall command because that word or that term- for however long it's been that your dog has heard it- has failed. Your dog has learned that it doesn't need to follow your recall(ALL the time), and we want a 100% guaranteed success rate with the command we use.

Dog Training With Skill and Patience

We always start by using a long lead to guarantee success until we know we have a 100% success rate. The thing that we recommend in terms of tools is a long lead and an e-collar.

It's straightforward and takes understanding, but that makes us experts at what we do. In another article, we will discuss the pros and cons of the e-collar and why you benefit from it, but know that this tool gives you a half-mile radius for your dog to hear and feel your command when it is time to come back.

To create a simple picture of how training recall starts during board and train:

  1. Our trainer will start with the leash training indoors in an environment where we can control variables completely. In a very narrow hallway, get your dog at the end of the hallway; we say "come," paired with leash pressure.

  2. We open our hand with a food reward so your dog knows where to look for physical guidance after the leash has given directional guidance.

  3. We use high rewards, praise, and food rewards when they come to us.

  4. Then, when your dog understands the 4-pillars of the e-collar: where is it coming from, why is it on, how does it turn off, and how to avoid it?

  5. We introduce the e-collar and leash training indoors in the same environment and layer on understanding with the verbal command, physical cue, and e-collar before we remove specific signals to build deeper, more true understanding.

We then move into a more extended hallway, then between rooms with zero distractions, always in a long line, so if they don't come, we can reel them in and guarantee success. We always set our dogs up for success. We never set them up to fail. We guarantee success and reward in this starting phase because we aim to teach them to be engaged and understand.

When they do it independently without us having to reel them in, we highly reward it. We make it very clear that this verbal command and e-collar stimulation means I want you to come to me, and if you do that, amazing things will happen.

You then do that in your garden. You then slowly increase the distraction level. Again, as long as you've restructured that relationship to the point where the dog wants to work with you and is eager to follow your guidance, you'll eventually get to a point where you can do it with distractions.

Even though they want to go towards that distraction, the "come" means hold on one second, go back, get the reward and then let them go and play.

You don't always only want to use recall to remove them away from a positive experience. If your dog wants to go to that positive experience, use the recall, reward them, and then let them return to the positive experience.

Layer the positivity approach alongside the relationship restructuring; that is how you get a 100% guaranteed success rate with your recall or your new command.

Dog Training Is a Journey... and A Process

Eventually, over a few months of training this or within a matter of weeks, if you choose to invest in our flagship training, it will help you have a dog that, no matter what's going on, will turn on a dime for a command or stim.

That's what our training dogs will do; if they hear "come" paired with e-collar, or if they are out of sight and feel the e-collar, it doesn't matter whether they are chasing a bird, their favorite thing in the world, going towards some of the dogs and playing with them, no matter what happens, come on that command.

They will think, "oh, it's go time! It's work time. Better get back to my parents as quickly as possible!" If they return quickly, they'll get a nice little reward, and we will thank them for doing that. We appreciate it.

We teach and train our clients to drill this throughout their life. It never ends; it's always an ongoing working process with our dogs. Every interaction is a training opportunity.

The Right Tool is The Tool That Helps A Dog Trainer Succeed

So we hope that helped to make recall a little bit easier to digest and understand the root of the problem. We continue to educate our clients so they understand that if they have those problems in other areas, they know how to find the root of the issue and overcome them.

If you've found this helpful, subscribe to our social channels and e-mail newsletters. If you are new, you can request a free assessment and join A Peaceful Pack, where we help each other become exceptional canine leaders.

Contact Us For - Tulsa Dog Training - Grooming - Daycare - Boarding... and More

We provide Tulsa dog training for dogs of all ages and breeds. It's never too early to invest in obedience classes, puppy classes, socialization classes, crate training classes, service dog training classes, or any class to sharpen up your dog's skills.

If you've got a cat, issues with grooming, new puppies, or two dogs in the household that struggle because of their breed or age, schedule a call or contact us on our social platforms to learn about our daycare, boarding, and training solutions.

Thank you so much again! If you've any questions, e-mail us at or send us a Message on any of our social platforms.


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