Do you find yourself shouting at your dog a lot during walks, only to be completely ignored?
We don’t! Not to brag, but we just don’t.
The dogs in our gang are well-practiced at coming back when called because we follow the same rigorous protocol with every new dog to ensure they have a 100% solid recall, allowing them to adventure off-lead.
If you want to improve your dog’s recall, take some pointers from how we get every doggy running back with joy.
We pay the dogs for coming back to us. We always carry a variety of tasty treats on us during walks so we can always reward generously when a dog chooses us over all the other distractions in the environment. By making coming back to us rewarding, our charges are more likely to want to do so.
If you know what your dog’s favourite food or toy is, you can use that to reward them for coming back to you when called. If you are using food, you can take their own kibble out on a walk with you or use tiny pieces of something special to keep them coming back for more.
We use the same recall cues to tell our gang to come back, and then we reward them when they do. We have a general recall cue that means “everyone come here please” and work on each individual dog’s name as a cue for them individually so we can catch their attention if they are getting up to no good or too excited.
Be consistent with your dog’s recall cue and with your rewards. It is totally fine to reward your dog every single time they come back to you when you call them. Doing this means they don’t anticipate you putting them back on lead and the fun stopping, so they will be more likely to come back when you do need them to go back on lead.
Practice, a lot!
We are out with our gang for a minimum of 90 minutes, and you would be amazed at how many times we call them back to us over that time. We also make a point of recalling when there are more distractions in the environment to make sure that each dog is quick at coming back no matter what they find on the moors or in the woods.
On your usual dog walks, aim to call your dog 10-15 times regardless of what they are doing. Reward them and let them go again. When you only call your dog if they are up to no good, they will learn not to come back to you at all.
If we have any suspicions a dog’s recall isn’t up to snuff, we put them on one of our long lines. This means they can have some freedom while being attached to a human and allows us to practice their engagement with no fear of them running away.
If your dog has sketchy recall, invest in a well-fitted harness for them, so they can be safely attached to a lead or a long line without damaging their neck.
We play lots of games together on our group dog walks - sniffaris where we hide treats among the environment, play hide and seek, chase the human, and “who can show me the best standing on a tree stump.” By making a walk interactive, our pals are always wanting to know what we are up to next rather than hoofing off after squirrels.
Bonding through play can be an absolute game-changer with your dog’s recall. Hiding treats for them along trees or teaching them a “paws up” cue can give them a great chance to engage with the environment with YOU at the centre of it. It’s important to build a strong relationship with your dog if you want them to come back to you when called.
The majority of times on our walks focus on spending quality time with your dog engaging in interactive play and exploring new things, which is why we don’t have any “FENTON!!” moments.
Improving your dog's recall takes time, patience, and consistency. Always celebrate the small victories; if your dog is choosing you over everything else in the world, you are making great strides.
If you are struggling, following our recall tips should set you off on the right foot to getting your dog’s recall snappy and allowing you to enjoy off-lead adventures like we do.
If you’d like your dog to join our gang, book a callback here.
We follow the Slow Dog Movement’s guiding principles on our walks.
If you wan’t heard about the Slow Dog Movement, we urge you to take a look!
Whilst we know the general idea of dogs is that they should be exercised to fatigue and allowed to play with dogs they meet when out to “socialise”, we also know that this can have a negative impact on a dog’s wellbeing and on the relationship between them and their guardian.
“A tired dog is a happy dog” has been the mantra for a number of years now, but in our experience, many conflate an exhausted dog with a tired dog. A happy dog is one who is allowed to be a dog, to process their environment and to learn in their own time. Dog are always learning, if you take them out and fling them up and down a field after a ball or allow them to yeet up and down with the other local dogs they will not ever learn to slow down, pay attention to their environment or really do much that is particularly doggy. They can become fixated on balls or dogs and be generally unmanageable if those things are not present.
We understand that many dogs’ walks have to fit in with their guardians’ lives and they may only be able to snatch short toilet breaks during the week, but that’s where we come in! Using the Slow Dog Movement philosophy, we encourage relaxing slower paced walks with a lot of enrichment opportunities along the way. This is why our walks are an hour and a half, because we take our time to encourage our gang to use all of their senses and engage appropriately with their dog friends. We choose interesting walk venues that encourage our pals to take a moment to stop and sniff the tree stumps. That isn’t to say we don’t let our gang blow off some steam and have a run around, we just make sure there is a healthy balance of high and low arousal activities for them to do, so they learn to down regulate. This is an important skill for all dogs to learn and we hope it gives out dog guardians peace of mind that their pups are learning to be better able to live in our fast paced human world.
The lovely thing about following the Slow Dog Movement philosophy is that we not only get to see our gang develop confidence and engage in natural behaviours, we also get to slow down ourselves and observe the nuances of communication between the dogs we look after. Each different group has their own dynamic, friendships form and the dogs pick up tricks from each other. Since we started walking dogs in 2016 we have seen one dog teach the other dogs how to have a joyful roll on their backs in the long grass, one has taught at least 5 others to swim and our Spokesdog Barbie has demonstrated to everyone how to successfully navigate stiles. If we were dead set on marching dogs around for an hour in the park, none of this social learning could have taken place. Taking things slowly allows us to really get to see each dog’s individuality shine through, and means we can support those who need extra encouragement to get involved and help quiet nervous dogs become confident movers and shakers. We love having the opportunity to take things slow with the dogs in our care, it really is a privilege to see them thrive.
If you would like to have your dog join our gang, get in touch.
At Adventure Walkies Bolton, we go beyond the usual idea of dog walking. It's not merely a stroll; it's a carefully curated adventure for everydoggy to fully embrace their innate dogness. We call our canine charges the “gang” instead of the “pack” because, truth be told, dogs are not wolves and they require us to engage with them as dogs! Every dog is a unique individuals with distinct needs and require engagement on their terms.
Since 2016, our mission has been clear—to provide the best walks for everydoggy. Our adventures are about enrichment, exploration and safe engagement with the other dogs and the environment.
We climb, we run, we sniff and we dig and we do it together!
Dogs thrive on social interactions, and our gang is a testament to that. Each new member undergoes a meticulous vetting process to ensure compatibility, fostering relationships that organically grow and solidify over time. Our professionally trained staff keeps a watchful eye on every walk, ensuring a suitably social experience where nodoggy rubs anydoggy up the wrong way, fostering an environment where dogs can truly enjoy the company of their peers.
Whenever we take dogs out with us, focus on handler is paramount. It's way more than just demanding the gang do as we say or keeping everyone on a lead all the time so they can’t misbehave; it's the key to a harmonious and safe adventure and we work hard on building our relationship with each and every dog, so they want to listen to us and feel safe around us. We use positive reinforcement to reward the dogs for making good choices and to redirect or interrupt any unwanted behaviours on walks. We don’t want to send your dogs home with new, unhelpful behaviours. Our goal is for your dogs to depart having learned valuable lessons, minimising fixation on other dogs and maximising a positive relationship with the human on the other end of the lead.
Physical exercise and mental stimulation are not just needs; they are essential for a dog's well-being. Often dogs don’t get to do both when on a walk. They may come home physically tired but having not really used their brain too much. Our walks are 90 minutes long because that gives us time to stop for structured enrichment pit stops along the way to get those grey cells working. We encourage problem solving, foraging for treats, checking their pee-mail, swimming and climbing depending on the time of year and weather.
At Adventure Walkies Bolton, each trip out is tailored to encourage your dog to learn and grow in the company of friends both canine and human. It’s our commitment to drop your dog back home having had a physically and mentally enriching adventure. We love what we do and we think if our gang could talk they would tell you all about how much they love it too.