There are a lot of different methods for training a dog to come when called. From one side you have the “act super excited and treat the dog” to “use a shock collar and blast the dog if they don’t come”.
There are a lot of factors that play into having good recall with a dog so we will go over them as well.
To start we will list pros and cons for the different methods:
Note: If using force based methods for training recall, it requires a much better understanding of dog training. It is very easy to make mistakes and make things much worse. A person can often think the dog understands why they are being corrected (for not coming when called) but often the dog has no clue why they are being corrected. This is what we call University Professor Syndrome. We may think the connection is easy to understand but that doesn’t mean the dog sees the connection.
We think the reason so many people are against shock collars is that it seems to be extremely rare to see them used in a method that isn’t stressful for the dog. Most shock collars won’t let you do training in a way that isn’t stressful to the dog.
If you are going to use a remote training collar, there are ones, and ways to use it, to almost completely eliminate stress and produce excellent results. That will be covered in the article on Recall Training.
Why 2 Sides?
If each side thinks their method works and the other causes problems then why are there two sides?
The answer seems to come down to the multiple underlying factors for recall. We will explain these factors first and then we will discuss where each side has its points for working. The underlying factors contain things such as:
Force vs Reward
Each side has points where it can work or help:
So where does force come in and why would it even be necessary if reward always worked?
The cases where people find Force to sometimes be helpful:
The article on Recall goes over how we train Recall with dogs. The basic idea is to use a long rope and reward to begin the training. If you do your socialization in the manner that helps with training then that may be all you have to do to get excellent recall.
If you are struggling with a dog where you feel like they understand the command but prefer to ignore or are not motivated to come when called you may find Force methods to be helpful when done properly.
Some people say their dog is not treat motivated or they do not care about fetch or tug or they don’t value their attention. The issue could be that these things are being given away for free or the drive hasn’t been built for Fetch or Tug. Making the dog work for these things and building drive may solve the problem. Sometimes the dog still isn’t that motivated by them so these people often find that at least having a consequence for not coming when called increases the dog’s desire to come back when called and be rewarded with attention or a game.
Both sides of training can work well. If a dog can be trained to come when called using reward and you no longer need to always have food present then reward is all you need.
If you are struggling and you have tightened up your Pack Structure Rules then using a remote training collar from the Force side may save your dog’s life. Chasing rabbits across a road and getting hit by a vehicle can be a life ending ordeal.