Why won’t my spaniel recall back to me?

May 20, 2022
spaniel won't recall
Hands up if you’ve shamelessly chased your spaniel or spaniel mix around a park, field or through the streets just trying to get them to come home with you.

Maybe you’ve watched other dog owners calmly let their dog run around freely, whilst you keep your spaniel or spaniel mix on lead wishing you could trust them.

Or perhaps your spaniel has ignored you far too many times, pretending they’ve forgotten their name especially if they spot a bird! and if you get the lead out to leave the park they are nowhere to be seen!

I have been witness to many spaniels and spaniel mix owners pulling their hair out, feeling stressed about walking their spaniel because they simply won’t come back. They have come to me almost in tears just wishing they could have a stress free walk, sound familiar?

I’ll let you in on a secret, it doesn’t always have to be this way.

Why does my spaniel or spaniel mix resist recall?

It’s no surprise our spaniels can be tricky to recall, since the 17th-century spaniels have been bred as gun dogs, to roam the countryside and help farmers hunt on land and in water.

That’s why they go absolutely bananas for water or sniffing around like a loon, it’s in their DNA!

If we trace the spaniel family tree all the way back, spaniels noses were in control, leading them to find game birds and help the farmers hunt.

In the past many Spaniels were given the job to hunt birds who had been caught by throwing nets, their role would be to ‘flush’ or chase birds out of the bushes into the net, then as shotguns became popular Spaniels were then trained to drive birds out of their hiding spots so that the hunter could shoot.

It’s hard to imagine our very cute and lovable spaniels doing that now, especially when they are cuddling up to you, but it’s a huge part of the spaniels’ ancestry, which can teach us a lot about how they are today. 

Spaniels are very driven by their nose, so in park or a field when they smell rabbits, birds, or even people’s picnics it can be hard to get them back!

Copy of Resource guarding resources Facebook Cover
Does your spaniel run away as soon as it’s time to go home?

What can I do to get my spaniel or spaniel mix to recall?

Because of how spaniels are bred, and their hard-wiring need to flush and chase ‘standard dog training’ often doesn’t work for them.

I can’t tell you how many Spaniels I’ve successfully trained that have previously believed their dog was ‘untrainable’ because they believed they’d tried everything!

Often when Spaniel owners try ‘standard dog training’ they find the results a little underwhelming.

If we can establish a strong bond and connection between you and your spaniel through consistent fun training, by using games that teach them how to use their nose, how to hunt with you, and teach them the best things happen around you, then recall will become possible. Also look at what does your spaniel enjoy doing on a walk? are they jumping in the bushes? is their nose constantly on the ground? if so get them searching the bushes for a special toy, throw treats on the ground, call them back and find the treats together. Work their spaniel brain and engage their natural instincts. Work with them, not against them,


When and where should I start my recall training?

You can teach your spaniel or spaniel mix at any age recall, trust me, you really can teach an old dog new tricks! 

Whenever you’re working on recall training with your spaniel, whether they are a puppy or an older dog, my advice is to always start at home in an area of low distraction.

Recall is a tough one for our spaniels to master, especially because they are so driven by smells. People will often also say to me, my spaniel isn’t food motivated and won’t take treats outside. I have worked with many spaniels like this, the arousal is so high when first going outside they cannot eat, but once we worked on calming this down they loved food again! If you have a spaniel like this just start by feeding them some of their dinner just for sitting outside with you.

By starting at home inside, moving to the garden and then eventually taking your training out to the park you will set your spaniel up for recall success. You would not have your child do SATS then send them straight to university without working on teaching them the skills in-between, Its the same for your spaniel!

One very simple, but great recall training game is the recall triangle.

For this:

  • Put a treat down on the floor by your feet
  • Let your spaniel eat it
  • Run away 
  • Say their name and say come
  • Pop another treat down by your feet
  • and
  • Repeat
  • Do this in the shape of a triangle 

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I promise you can teach your spaniel to recall

Can you help me teach my spaniel or spaniel mix recall?

Absolutely, I can give you immediate help with recall and understanding your spaniel. All of my spaniel secrets are in the spaniel inner circle and spaniels from all over the world are benefitting from it right now.

Like Kaja Kloetzing, owner of Riley from Germany, who says:  

“If you are looking to transform your nightmare of a Spaniel into the Spaniel of your dreams the Spaniel Inner Circle is the perfect place to be. No matter which part of the world you are from, if you are a native speaker or trying to get away with your little knowledge of the English language learned in high school you will always feel welcomed in the community. Although most of us will never meet in person we are linked together through the love and affection for our crazy Spaniels.

“Hannah shows genuine interest in everyone, will always take her time to address the questions in the community chat or during the live sessions and ask how things are getting along. She celebrates our successes along the way and finds the right strategies to cope with bad days (a bottle of wino and Quality Streets seem to do the trick😉).

“Hannah is a truly amazing trainer who really understands the challenges life with a Spaniel can throw at you. The advice given to the members are never one size fits all, she will always carefully analyze the individual situation you and your dog are in, taking everything into consideration from possible health issues to external triggers you would have never even thought of.

“I am forever grateful to have found Hannah – her knowledge and understanding of dogs in general and Spaniels, in particular, is absolutely one of a kind. Without her help, I would still think that the answer to an overexcited Spaniel with no off-switch when out and about is to even take longer and faster walks. Instead, I have a focused (okay, mostly focused we’re are still talking about Spaniels here) little girl who happily snoozes on the sofa after a walk that is packed with a bit of physical exercise, a bit of brainwork, a bit of nosework and a lot of fun.”

Where can I get more help for my Spaniel or Spaniel mix?

For just £29.99 a month, you’ll get access to everything you need to train and enjoy your Spaniel. Plus, you’ll join a community of people who are proudly Spaniel – with not a jot of shame insight. There is whole whistle recall training guide in there, and so many games to create connection with your spaniel outdoors, which is the key to recall.

The Spaniel Inner Circle isn’t just cheaper than in-person dog training. It’s more effective and you still get my individual help. 

It is:

  • Flexible – Enjoy 24/7 access so you can train anytime
  • Easier for your Spaniel – Away from exciting people, dogs and new scents, they can learn quickly
  • Shareable – Your whole household can watch the training. When everyone’s on the same page, you enjoy faster results
  • Personal – You get quick answers to your questions whenever you need them
  • Recorded and saved – so you can watch it back as many times as you need to
  • Specific to spaniels – All my teaching is 100% tailored to spaniels. I know what works, and how to help you 🙂

To get the spaniel of your dreams who recalls, join my spaniel inner circle here 

By Hannah Antrobus

Hannah is a spaniel specialist dog trainer for spaniels and spaniel crosses. Her catchment area is Warwickshire but she offers video sessions and works with clients nationally and internationally so don’t hesitate to get in touch from wherever you are in the world!

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