The Emergency Recall

If you were to teach your dog only one command, this is it! The emergency recall is a hard command to master, but it could save your dog's life one day. Most dogs are good about coming when called since it is often one of the first things we teach them. But sometimes they take their sweet time coming when called or just completely ignore you because something more exciting has caught their attention.

Why use an emergency recall command?

In most cases, a couple more “come here” commands will do the trick, and your dog will eventually come, but there are cases when we need them to move with a sense of urgency. If they are chasing their ball out into the street and you see a car coming, and you yell come here, they may choose to continue chasing their ball and ignore you. But if a car is coming, we have to get the dog to stop what he is doing and come back immediately and with urgency.

How is the emergency recall different?

So how is an emergency recall different from a regular recall we use every day with our dogs, like "come" or "come here"? Well, there are a couple of key differences. One is that we choose a different word. Don't say come, and don't use the dog's name.

Instead, choose a word or make a sound that you can make loudly and comes easily to you. For some, this can look like a shrill whistle tone, or for others, it can be a specific word. If choosing a word, make sure you choose something that doesn't come up in everyday conversation. Instead, pick something a little out of the ordinary that you aren't afraid to yell loudly in public! Maybe something like "Bonanza!" or "Hurry!" You'll want to say the word loudly and excitedly to really get your dog's attention.

The reward

The next major difference between a regular recall and an emergency recall is the reward. To train a dog to come, we use treats and praise, right? When faced with a situation like chasing the neighborhood cat or running after a ball, some dogs may be over-stimulated and tune out the normal things they hear every day.

We have to use an extremely high-value reward to convince them that it is worth coming when called. The treats we use for regular dog training aren't going to be good enough. You'll need a treat that your dog is willing to abandon a squirrel chase for. Some folks use freeze-dried liver, and others use plain cooked chicken. Don't be afraid to switch it up, too. You don't want your dog to become used to it. They should think that coming to the emergency recall is a once in a lifetime opportunity that they just can't pass up.

How long to reward your dog

The final difference between an emergency recall and a regular recall is the duration you give your dog treats and praise. To make it worth it for your dog to drop everything, he has to know he will be getting an absolutely amazing deal.

Just one treat isn't enough in these cases. Instead, offer your dog small pieces of the treat in quick succession-one right after the other- for at least 20 to 30 seconds. And just like regular training, give high praise during the reward process- the whole 20 to 30 seconds. Praise should be exciting and over the top to really drive the point home for your dog.

How to train an emergency recall

When you are starting this training, start with small distances between you and your dog. Practice in a quiet location where your dog can easily focus. As your dog continues to respond to the command, slowly increase the distance between you two and even increase the distractions.

For example, if practicing in your backyard, try increasing the distance between you and your dog by using the entire yard's length. If your dog does well with that, consider adding some distractions. Maybe you have another dog you could invite into the backyard with you that might slightly distract the dog you are training with. Continue practicing until your pup has it down.

You could also pair the emergency recall with ABBIDOT’S dog training collar. Sometimes when your dog is hyper-focused, it can be difficult to get their attention. If in an emergency, give your dog a beep or a vibrate to get their attention, and then use the emergency recall. This will increase the likelihood that your dog will come running back to you safe and sound.

Once it is mastered, only use the command in true emergencies! You may be tempted, but don't even use it if you are running late for work and your dog wants to keep playing outside. The maintain its effectiveness, it needs to be an incredibly rare treat for the dog, so only use it for true emergencies. If you feel like your dog may need a refresher course, it's okay to practice again, just don't do it too often, and remember to always use an incredibly high-value treat.