Getting a reliable recall from our dogs can be an absolute nightmare; some times they come back first call, other times it can feel like shouting into an abyss. There’s no magic trick to recall training but figuring out the ice cream factor can feel pretty magic!
Finding your dog’s ice cream will absolutely revolutionise your recall training; it’s the difference between a shoulder shrug and a wheel spin to get back to you.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been that person at the park shouting for their dog to come back but failing miserably at getting any sort of response. It’s humiliating, frustrating and if I’m honest a little scary too… what if I never got him back?!
Figuring out the ice cream factor was the revolutionary moment for me to spin that situation on its head and turn into the enviable person who gets their dog back on the first call.
I was born in the late 80’s so most of my great childhood memories happened in the mid 90’s. (Epic decade to grow up in I reckon, but that’s not the point). With that in mind, picture the scene:
I’m rocking a super high scraped back ponytail, leggings and an oversized but matching t-shirt. I’m sat on the floor of my best mate’s bedroom painting my nails fluorescent green and singing my heart out to “Viva Forever”. Mum comes in downstairs and shouts up “Rachael, it’s time to go”.
What’s just happened?
Essentially my mum just issued a recall cue… her polite request was code for “get your butt downstairs now, put your painfully white Umbro trainers on and get in my car”.
Did I do it?
Not. A. Chance.
I mean, I like to think I was a fairly angelic kid (*cough*) but essentially, I was having a great time up there and she had nothing of higher value to offer me. Essentially, I wasn’t motivated to do what she wanted.
So; she called again, and again… and finally got so angry she had to come and get me, guide me back downstairs by the elbow and supervise me doing what she wanted. I usually got a telling off in the car too.
Unfortunately, the next time she came for me, my behaviour didn’t improve. I still valued getting that last coat of nail polish sorted over getting in the car to go home.
It should… this is essentially us issuing a recall cue to our dogs!
“Fido, come” is basically code for “Hey Fido, you know all those awesome sniffs, that great big stinky puddle and the deviant squirrels? Yeah, well I want you to leave them all alone now, come here and diligently put your lead on so we can go to the car and head home”.
Not. A. Chance.
Now here’s the thing (and FINALLY she references the ice cream thing)… I have a huge penchant for mint choc chip ice cream. I eat a mostly plant-based diet nowadays but even then, I’m struggling to kick the occasional bowl of minty green goodness.
Picture my 90’s Spice Girls wannabe self again and think now, what would have happened if my mum came in and shouted “Rachael, I’ve got some mint choc chip ice cream here if you come right now!”.
Would I do it?
OH HECK YES!
I’d be flying down those stairs so fast I’d probably leave a nail polish stain right down the bannister!
Here’s the thing, my world didn’t get any less fun… I just had a better offer!
So thinking about our dogs recall, what if “Fido, come” was code for “Hey Fido, I’ve got your version of ice cream!”. You stand a much better chance of being the grinning baffoon in the park watching your dog wheel spin away from what they’re doing to come and hang out with you!
Now just because I’ve used food as my example doesn’t mean your dogs favourite thing is food. Most dogs actually come back faster and with more enthusiasm for a great game with their owner than food. Some do love their food but even then, there will be a hierarchy of goodness; perhaps they think chicken is pretty good but sprats are absolutely the best thing ever!
I can guarantee you, very few dogs think a dry dog biscuit or a pat on the head are awesome enough to wheel spin back to you for, and I’m yet to meet one that thinks having their lead put on is exhilarating!
So, here’s the question: what’s your dog’s mint choc chip ice cream?
Bob’s is definitely a game of retrieve and tuggy. I have a couple of toys he loves to chase and bring back for a game of tuggy so when I shout “Bob, here!” he knows something awesome is about to be produced from my pocket and he flies over in my direction to get involved.
I’d love to know what your dog’s ice cream is… tell me in the comments!
Finding it hard to figure out what your dog’s cream is? Or perhaps you know what it is, but you don’t quite know how to teach them that “Fido, come” means they’re going to get it. Book in for a recall session with me and we’ll tackle the problem together and have a laugh at the same time.