This is a worryingly frequent phase heard in dog walking locations across the UK. If you haven’t heard this phase whilst out and about enjoying your time with your dog then I would suggest you are extremely lucky.

It seems to have become the phrase that people use to justify their dogs rogue behaviour and what it really means is my dog won’t recall successfully but don’t worry, he most likely won’t cause you any serious harm.

This is NEVER ok.

There are multiple reasons that other dogs and their owners may not want to be approached by others

  • the dog may be recovering from injury
  • the dog may be fearful of other dogs
  • the dog may be in training

To name a few but the list is endless.

Dog recall happy

A dog doesn’t even have to be on a lead for these examples to apply, if a dog is under close control of its owner and happily minding its own business then just because it is off lead does not give another dog the right to bound over into its space.

People always used to walk their dogs to spend time with their dogs and enjoy their company, but in recent times it seems people take their pets somewhere and just release them to entertain themselves with whatever dogs or other people they find. Our dogs should want to spend time playing and engaging with us and ignore everything else around us. If your dog cannot wait to get away from you when you let them off the lead it would suggest that you may need to look at your relationship and think about how you can be a better and more interesting companion for your dog.

The bottom line is that if you cannot recall your dog then it shouldn’t be off the lead. This is not only for the benefit of those that do not want your dog in their space but also for your dog’s safety.

For instance if your dog approaches an on lead dog that is dog aggressive there is a chance your dog could be injured, and this would not be the fault of the on lead dog or its owner as it was under control on a lead at the time of the incident. That of course is not the only danger to a dog that cannot recall, again the list of dangers is endless including running into the road, getting lost/stolen, etc.

Isn’t it cruel not to let my dog play with others?

This is often the question that owners reply with when I explain the above to them. The answer is no! Whilst it is important when socialising a puppy to teach them to greet other dogs and people politely, it is not necessary to allow your dog to play with every dog they meet and in fact this often causes more issues.

After all you wouldn’t let your child run up and play with every person you meet?

That isn’t to say that your dogs can never play with other dogs but we shouldn’t encourage play with any random dog we meet. If you have friends that you frequently see or meet up with that have dogs it is fine for you to allow your dog to form relationships with these and allow them to play. The important thing to ensure it that it is polite play and of a nature they both enjoy. Remember that play fighting is called that for a reason and should not be encouraged as the dogs are purely practicing fighting and for me this is not a skill I want my dogs to hone. So ensure you step in before play turns rough.

dogs playing on beach

What can I do if my dog will not recall?

Recall is a foundation skill that we need to teach our dogs as soon as possible and is a much easier process when started at a young age.

Recall training needs to start in low distraction areas before you then take it to other places to proof. Your recall command needs to be consistent throughout for example “dogs name” “come”. If we start to use other words like “what’s this”, rattling a treat bag or “lets go” etc this becomes confusing for the dog and the recall with not be as strong.

Ensure you sufficiently praise and reward your dog when they successfully recalled as this will strengthen the behaviour when learning. It is also important that the reward is of high enough value when you recall from more distracting things. This means you need to do some work to understand what your dog finds most rewarding, be that treats, toys or touch.

We like to use JR Pet Products – dog pate as a tasty treat

puppy recall

In Summary

  • Be better company for your dog
  • Use the correct level of reward
  • Build up distractions slowly
  • Don’t be the person that says “don’t worry my dog is friendly”

If you need some help on getting your dog to recall more successfully then get in touch today to find out more.


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