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3 Reasons Your Dog Sometimes Has Rubbish Recall (And How To Fix It)

Picture the scene: you’ve been out on a walk and it’s time to go home, so you call your dog’s name and… nothing happens. Sound familiar?

Recall is one of the most troublesome training issues for dog owners. In fact, in our Play Survey, 50% of owners named recall as the issue they struggle with more than anything else. 

However, a good recall is essential. Being able to count on your dog to come back when you call them means walks are more enjoyable. It also helps you keep them safe and feel comfortable enough to give them more freedom to roam off-lead.

That’s why, here at Tug-E-Nuff, we’re on such a mission to help owners like you nail a bulletproof recall with our range of tried-and-tested recall toys and our free help and advice. 

So following our popular 8 Simple Steps To A Perfect Recall blog a few weeks ago, we thought we’d take a closer look at the reasons why your dog’s recall isn’t what it should be - and, crucially, what you can do to change it... 

They have a strong chase drive 

Maybe your dog has a perfectly OK recall... That is, right up until the moment they spot a rabbit or a squirrel when, all of a sudden, they’re off like a rocket - and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Don’t worry - chasing wildlife is one of the most common reasons for dogs not to come when they are called. 

How to fix it

First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do: don’t try to eradicate your dog’s chase drive in any way. It’s an instinctual urge that’s part of who they are. Instead, use it to your advantage. 

Choose a chaser tug like the best-selling Sheepskin Chaser or Rabbit Skin Squeaky Chaser that will tap in to (and fully satisfy) their urge to chase - and make running to you for a game of tug far more interesting than the nearest squirrel. With a Chaser in your recall training toolkit, you’ll have the ultimate reward - which means awesome results. 

They have a great sense of smell

A dog’s sense of smell is its superpower. While us humans have around six million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have 300 million. According to Dr. Michael T. Nappier of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a dog's sense of smell is so powerful that it can ‘detect the equivalent of a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool’. For hounds and working breeds (including labradors and german shepherds), the sense of smell is particularly powerful.

This might help explain why some dogs have poor recall on walks and prefer to run off to follow scent trails. 

How to fix it

If your dog loves following its nose, it means they find strong smells very rewarding. To compete with this, and make yourself more exciting than your environment (which is the key to reliable recall), you need a ‘smelly’ reward!

Our rabbit skin and Sheepskin toys have a natural scent and texture that most dogs find incredibly motivating - we particularly recommend our Rabbit Skin Pocket Squeaker and Pocket Magnet for recall. Or you could try a Food Bag Bungee, which you can stuff with strong-smelling treats (such as these). 

They just love making friends!

Just like humans, some dogs are more sociable than others. And those who do enjoy mixing can take it to extremes - choosing to run off and make friends with every other dog they see (all while ignoring your calls for them to come back). 

Not only does this make for frustrating walks, but being unable to count on your dog to recall when there are other dogs around can be a real worry. You can’t always predict how other dogs will react to your dog’s friendly advances - and it might not always be pleasant. 

How to fix it

Ok so, as far as your dog is concerned, sniffing the bottoms of other dogs is great fun. But here’s what’s even more fun: a game of tug with a motivational interactive tuggy from our hand-picked recall range. Be sure to build value into your tuggy at home before using it on walks - and keep it as a high value recall reward (in other words, don’t let your dog play with it all the time). 

Ready to turbocharge your recall using play? Follow these 8 steps to a perfect recall. 

And remember to check out our full range of recall training toys here.

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