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What are dog owners’ current attitudes to recall?

This month the NAWT and Dogs Today magazine shared results from a joint survey on dog owners’ attitudes to recall. 

Around 1,400 people responded to the questionnaire, three quarters of them owned one or two dogs which they walked at least once a day.

The need to have a good recall is balanced by the popular belief among many owners that it’s important to walk their dogs off lead.

Walking off lead gives dogs the freedom to run, play and explore and two thirds of respondents walked their dogs this way. Nearly everybody uses recall as a way to get their dogs back. 

Safe, quiet places are first choices

Safety clearly rules when it comes to choosing where to go for a walk with quiet places, away from cars and traffic being the top priority, narrowly followed by the ability to allow a dog off to walk off lead.

With parks and the countryside among the most popular destinations, these places obviously come with risks.

At least a quarter of respondents had lost their dog while out walking with the dog off lead. The main reasons varied from chasing wildlife (especially deer), being scared of or being chased by other dogs or because their pet had found an exciting scent. 

Interestingly when owners could not get their dogs back, nearly half worried about the consequences and a quarter experienced a variety of emotions such as vowing to manage the walk better in future, so the situation doesn’t arise again.

Others felt annoyed or frustrated at themselves, vowing to do more training. A further 14 per cent of dog owners felt embarrassed by their dogs’ behaviour while 13 per cent felt a sense of panic. 

Recall training is key

Most owners recognise that recall training is key to stopping their dogs from running away.

When asked what think when their dog runs off, more than half (54 per cent) think they need to do more recall training.

Others (17.8 per cent) feel the dog is just doing what dogs love to do and some (17.7 per cent) think that dogs like chasing as it is in their nature because following scent and chasing prey are natural instincts.

Why do our dogs chase?

Before dogs were domesticated their primary reason to chase prey animals would be to kill for food but the modern pet dog is generally well fed, if not overfed, so chasing anything nowadays suggest another drive all together. 

There is a simple reason for running off: they enjoy it. The act of the chase releases a pleasure seeking chemical called Dopamine into the dog’s brain so he gets a real high from the experience.

It’s this thrill that makes it so addictive and why dogs will often become repeat offenders.

So armed with this knowledge, owners need to find ways to maintain their recall on an ongoing basis. Our research shows many dog owners recognise that recall is an ongoing issue. 

In fact two out of three people said that if they could turn the clock back they would spend more time training the recall in any situation and many said recall training is ongoing throughout their dog’s life.

Join us for our recall webinar

Next Tuesday (May 15) we’re delighted to be hosting a free webinar on recall tips and advice with TV trainers and behaviourists Jo-Rosie Haffenden, Nando Brown and Dean Nicolas of the School of Canine Science. 

If you’d like to join us, then please register here.

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