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It an easy scenario to imagine, indeed all pet parents have been there at some point with their dog.
You have a long evening shift ahead of you, and it only seems fair to first give the dog some exercise to settle him down for the night. However, your idea of a quick run around the park is quickly shattered, as nose down in Beagle sniffing mode, the dog takes off after a scent. It's something you've noticed with Beagles, once they pick up a smell it's as if they go deaf and are only interested in one thing... following their nose.
You call and shout...but to no avail. Not only is the clock ticking and your shift is getting ever closer, but the dog is also heading towards the road. You begin to fear, not so much being late for work, but that the evening may be spent at Doggie ER.
The opposite of the above scenario is the dog that turns on his heel at the first mention of "Rover, come!". This seemingly magical feat of control can be achieved, with regular training and the correct motivation.
Recall is all about training the dog to want to come back because he knows good things (like tasty treats) happen. To do this you can use motivators such as sausages or cheese, along with using dog psychology to get things working for you, rather than against.
Ultimately, a Beagle that comes back when called is going to be a safe Beagle, who is allowed to play off lead because you're confident he'll return to your side. Well worth the effort, for everyone involved!
Teaching recall can start even with a young puppy. As the pup happens to waddle towards you, clap your hands with excitement and say "Come". Indeed, pups have an instinct to stay close to their 'mother hen' so use this, by running away from the pup and shouting for him to "Come". This should trigger him to come bounding after you.
In the older dog, you'll also need:
- A longline
- Super scrumptious training treats
- A treat bag
- A friend
- A safe space in which to train
- Time and patience.
The Recall Game Method
Understand the idea
This method involves engaging the Beagle in a game between two people. Each has a supply of tasty treats, and in turn, they call the dog to them and give him a reward. Pretty soon the dog is running to and fro between the people, and you can add the "Come" cue as the dog runs towards you. When you play this enough, the dog associates running towards a person shouting "Come" means a reward, which is an irresistible idea to a Beagle.
Get the setting right
It's best not to start this game in a public place where the dog could run off. Instead, start in a confined backyard, so that if he does get distracted there's no harm done. Simply ignore him for a while, then make a noise or jump up and down to attract his attention and restart the game
Set yourself up
You will need a friend to work with you. Both have treats in a handy pouch so that you can reward the Beagle as soon as he gets to you. Stand a short distance apart at first (you can separate more as the dog gets the hang of things). Let the dog into the yard.
Attract the dog's attention
Person A makes some interesting noises and shows the dog they have a treat and calls "Come". Most Beagles find the idea of food impossible to turn down, and so he comes trotting over. Give him a big fuss and reward him with the treat.
Person B takes a turn
Now Person B makes some noise, shows the treat and says "Come". Hey presto, the pup goes trotting over for that oh-so-easy-to-earn treat. Remember the big fuss is important - you want the dog to feel special and clever - and give the reward.
Continue in this way with Person A calling "Come" and then Person B. As the dog learns to zip towards the person shouting "Come" you can start to increase the distance between you. This helps build a strong association between the word "Come " and returning to your side
The Basic Recall Method
Understand the idea
Most dogs aren't wilfully disobedient, it's just that they haven't been adequately trained to understand what's required of them. Teaching a basic recall is not hard when you train regularly and make sure always to praise the dog when he does return...no matter how long it took.
Use a longline
When working in a public place or an unfenced space, it's best to keep the Beagle on a longline. This means you have him under control at all times, even if he doesn't want to co-operate. A longline is better than a flexi-lead as the latter teach the dog the bad habit of pulling.
Call the dog as he moves toward you
Use the times the dog happens to move towards you as a training opportunity. For example, when on a slack longline the dog happens to turn in your direction, make an excited noise, say his name in a squeaky voice and then "Come". If he takes one or two steps towards you but stops, then you move away from him while slapping your thighs and generally making yourself interesting. When the dog does come to heel, make a big fuss and give him a treat.
As the dog starts to understand what "Come" means, then have him come back from a sitting position. Simply place your Beagle in a sit and have him stay. Then walk a short distance away and call him to you. When he responds, praise and reward him. If he ignores your request, gently tension the long line to give him the idea. However, the return should b a voluntary action so avoid the scenario of hauling him in by the line, unless absolutely necessary.
Continue his training in a variety of highly distractable environments. In order to focus his attention, you may need to use some super-tasty treats, something that is really going to motivate a hungry Beagle to come for that guaranteed reward.
The What NOT to Do Method
Understand where things go wrong
If your Beagle failed to return one time and you got really cross, because he made you late for work, then the dog is likely to have bad memories of what happens when he comes back. This is a common reason for poor recall. As well as knowing how to train a dog to come back, it's also crucial to know what not to do, so that you don't become your own worst enemy to recall.
Never punish a poor recall
When you punish a dog for a delayed recall, why would he ever want to come back again? As far as he's concerned returning to your side is a bad thing, so why would he do it? Instead, even if you're really really mad, hide the fact. When he eventually comes back, be happy and excited, exactly as if he'd responded the first time.
Don't go straight home
Imagine your dog has a good recall, you do everything correctly, and yet of late his return has been getting slower and slower. Think carefully about your routine. It may be you always put the leash on and return straight home. Therefore the dog starts to link recall with the end of his fun. Instead, call him back slightly early (or allow more time) and take him a walk around the block before setting off home, so he doesn't directly link the leash to end of playtime.
Don't keep yelling his name
When a dog doesn't come back, it's tempting to keep yelling his name, louder and louder. However, he's likely to fall 'deaf' to those shouts and view it as so much noise. Instead, make yourself interesting to the dog. You can do this by running away while flapping your arms in the air and calling his name, or hiding behind a tree and calling him, so that he suddenly realizes he can't see you and decides to track you down.
Don't use boring treats
If you have a really recall resistant dog then it could be the treats just aren't tasty enough. Make them something super-special so that no matter how exciting the scent the Beagle has just picked up, he's guaranteed to be more interested in that cube of cheese or slice of sausage.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 12/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021