The Great Pyrenees is notorious for failing to come when called. Training a reliable recall is a never-ending struggle and most pyrs will never fully master the skill. Since the ability to come when called is an essential skill, I had to find a way to work around the pyr independence.
Enter the emergency recall.
The emergency recall is something that every dog can and should learn. It is especially essential for our free-willed breeds. Unexpected situations can happen and ensuring your dog comes immediately can prevent a horrible and potentially fatal situation.
Has your dog ever broken free from the leash and run after a car, dog, or other enticing object? Did you yell “come!” only for your dog to ignore your call? If so, the emergency recall could be extremely beneficial.
Not only is the emergency recall a great skill to learn, it is incredibly easy to teach. Just follow these simple steps:
- First, you will need to come up with a command for your emergency recall. Make sure it is something you can easily remember, yet isn’t likely to be used in every day conversation. We use the word “pronto”.
- Make sure you have plenty of high value treats in your hand – something your dog doesn’t get in usual training sessions. You want this treat to be extremely special! Perhaps some cooked chicken or lean hamburger meat.
- Start off in an easy location (e.g. your house) and stand just a few feet away from your dog. Say the command, “pronto!”, in a high-pitched voice with happy, excited posture to entice your dog to come to you.
- When you dog makes it to you, reward him/her with treats for 20-30 seconds. You want it to feel like your dog hit the jackpot!
- After you’ve finished with the treats, let your dog go back to whatever he/she was doing. Typically, “come” is associated with fun ending (coming in from outside, leaving the park) so let the fun continue as it was.
- Practice, practice, practice!
Once your dog has mastered the emergency recall in a quiet place, it’s time to start adding distance and distractions. Make sure you don’t push your dog too far as success when learning the emergency recall is very important.
It is important to avoid using the emergency recall in non-emergency situations. Repeat usage in every day situations (other than practice) will reduce the overall strength of the recall. You never know when the emergency recall will save your dog’s life, so be sure to keep it to true emergency situations.
If you have taught your dog the emergency recall, have you ever had to use it? If your dog doesn’t know the skill, do you think it would be beneficial for you?