Recall is an oft overlooked but very important skill for any dog to learn, including a Havanese! Whether you’re just calling your dog from across the house or you’re calling them off chasing a car down the street, recall is a vital skill for your Havanese to know for both their safety as well as your sanity.
While recall training is best started when your Havanese is a puppy, even an old dog can learn new tricks!
You should start recall training in an environment with as few distractions as possible, like a quiet room in your house. While your dog is idling around the room and unfocused on you, pull out their favorite toy or treat so that your dog can see it and praise them as they come toward you. Repeat this until your dog is reliably coming toward you upon producing the lure. Once you are confident in your Havanese’s grasp of the situation, you can add a verbal cue such as “come” to the training.
After several repetitions, your Havanese should be reliably coming to you for their toy or treat! Now you can up the ante by saying the verbal cue of your choice that you previously tied to the action before producing any reward. Once your Havanese is reliably responding to their command, you can begin adding distance between yourself and your dog. With time you’ll also want to move to new environments, especially ones with distractions. Make sure to start out slow! Don’t jump straight to the dog park from your living room.
Do not dilute the cue! Diluting a cue means repeating it over and over again when your dog isn’t responding. For example, you say “sit” but your dog doesn’t sit, so you repeat the word over and over again. Repeating a command is not the way to get your dog to obey it! You should take a few steps back in your training and realistically evaluate where you’re at.
In a high-stress situation where you need your dog to come to you now, it can be difficult not to frantically repeat your recall cue. But it is important to do your best to keep a calm head. If your Havanese does stop responding to their recall, then your best bet is to start back at square one with a new cue.
Do not punish your Havanese for coming to you! No matter how frustrated you are, you should never call your dog to you and then punish them. This creates a negative association not only between them and the recall cue, but between you and your Havanese. Havanese require a gentle hand, not a firm one.