One of the most basic behaviors that every dog should learn is to come when called. Professional dog trainers call this skill “recall.”
German Shepherds, given their long breeding history focused on their value as working dogs, are a breed that can learn to have a very reliable recall. As you probably already know, your German Shepherd is smart and eager to please. All you need is the know-how and some patience to practice recall with your GSD.
GSDs are powerful dogs who need strong leadership in their pack. Teaching your dog to come promptly when called, every time, could even save her life. However, to get recall to be reliable in a pinch, you will need to put some time in with regular practice and proofing in a variety of distracting environments.
Read on to find out how!
Training a good recall is not done in a few quick sessions. Although your German Shepherd will learn the basic command very quickly, getting their recall to the point that you can always count on it will take a great deal of practice both in and out of formal training sessions.
Here are some tips to make your recall command strong, and keep it that way:
Think about what motivates your German Shepherd before beginning your recall training with her. It is important to use a variety of different rewards when working on recall, although starting with high value food rewards is probably easiest. After she has the basics down, you will want to “switch it up” for fun with a game of tug, plenty of praise, or a toss of her favorite ball.
Keep your training sessions short enough that your GSD stays engaged and excited to learn. Cutting a session short before she gets frustrated is worth more than spending three times as long working beyond his focus limit. Also, be sure to keep things positive by rewarding success whenever you can.
The only equipment you need for recall training is a long line. You can use a leash or a rope for this job, as long as it is 25’ or longer and is strong enough to reel your dog in so that it is safe to work outside in non-secure environments.