I was so thankful to see such a noble animal and to minimally disturb her activity (if my dogs were not under voice control I most certainly would have had them on leashes). I was grateful that I was carrying my "emergency reward" pocket of kibble that I generously doled out to the dogs. All my recall work I had done around other dogs, marmots, deer, prairie dogs, and ducks had paid off.
Perhaps you don't walk your dog in the wilderness but he might be one to take off after kids, other dogs, birds, leaves, bicycles, etc. The training is the same. And so I offer these tips to getting a great recall:
GUIDE TO A GREAT RECALL
1. Use food as a reward. It's easy. It's measurable. You are going to feed your dog anyway, so why not?
2. Always reward dog when he comes to you regardless of what he did just prior to coming to you. Got that? Don't yell at your dog for running out the front door if he just turned around and is walking toward you because you called him back.
3. Set dog up for success. Start with easy recalls, on leash, few distractions. Repeat, repeat, repeat, then add in distractions. If your dog has been great off leash in the backyard and you decide to have someone bounce a ball while your dog is coming to you, put him back on the leash so you can set him up for success.
4. Keep your recall word sacred. Say it only when you are willing to generously reward your dog. If I am not prepared to reward a dog I will refrain from saying "come" or "here" and, instead, pat my leg or squat down to the floor to get a dog to come to me.
5. Be consistent. Especially for #2 and #4.
Your dog does not need to eat from a bowl. Put the food bowl in the cupboard and use his regular meals as rewards. Make sure he is hungry before training sessions. This means that you will need to withhold anything consumable: rawhide, bully sticks, pig ears, Greenies, Milkbones, carrots, treats, cookies, Nylabone Healthy Edibles, green beans, popcorn, Beggin' Strips....you get my drift, anything that can be swallowed and takes up space in the dog's stomach.
Carry food on your body in a pouch or in a pocket so you can reward your dog immediately.
Make rewards more valuable by giving them over TIME. When the dog does an extra fast recall, or comes to you when lots of distractions are present, give several pieces of dog food one-at-a-time waiting for him to swallow each one before giving another. Keeping the dog focused on the food reward for five seconds or more will help reduce the chance of him running off again. If necessary, also carry an extra high value food reward such as cubed chicken, cheese, or beef to use in the most challenging situations.