Food mainly I used ham as my Jack Russell loves it, I used to practice in the garden first then went into one of my fields, then when I felt confident I let her off the lead on a walk and it has never failed.
We have lots of safe places to walk of lead, and do so most days. Recall is generally good (and we always reward with a treat) - except when something more interesting crops up. Another person, dog. Suddenly little Daisy is as deaf as a post.......
I've got two dogs,one is Velcro and keeps close,she was a born follower..The young boy is my challenge, and we are still using a long line when we do his "offlead " sessions.He is nearly 17 months old but will still bounce up to all and sundry.Most intact males then procede to have a go at him,so for his own safety he is still on the line.
We also carry treats but sometimes the distractions are too great..In the park we walk you can come across distractions like this....just around a bend,we encountered this...thank goodness the dogs were on lead.It was the last thing we expected to see in a suburban park.
Squealing, waving arms, running in the opposite direction, any fish based treat (have even been known to mix sardines in with kibble- YAK), dropping to the floor, squeaky ball, ENORMOUS praise EVERY time he makes the right decision.
Yes you look like an absolute nutter that reeks of fish, but your dog has come back LOL
Treats - Cheese is most favourable to R (don't know why...) and i always put treats in a poo bag so i can rustle it and shes over like a shot!
Going down to her level - I find this works well i crouch down and call, she comes flying over (i think its a game of how scared can a mastiff make you running full speed towards you! and then dodge at the last second!)
Keep them guessing, and change the places you take them constantly. If they in familiar surroundings they are less likely to be looking to you for guidance.
We train the sit and recall with treats, we also use a folded towel on the floor as a safe place where nice things happen and use this when we start retrieving - a bit like placeboard training. Never ever use a command that you are not 100% sure that they will respond to, never set them up to fail.
Treat them when they have eye contact with you, keep their attention, it doesn't matter how you do this or how much of an idiot you look like!
I start hiding from my lot when they get a little comfortable on their walks sometimes. This is the best time of year for it .... I crouch down in the long grass when they're not looking and then call them. I can always hear them darting around hunting me down
as for developing recall.... I vary up the rewards, sometimes it's a treat, sometimes it's The Best Game Ever (or just a regular game )...........and sometimes it's just a 'good dog'. Variety is the spice of life as they say!
I don't use treats, never seen the need. My dogs come to me as I'm pack leader, not a treat dispensing machine!! I use tone of voice... Strict/stern when giving command and soft/lots of praise as soon as they start doing what they are told. The lurcher pup is particularly receptive to this, he is 7 1/2 months old and his recall is pretty much 100%...even with bunnies involved!!
The secret is to always be alpha, it's very easy to be lazy but if you tell them I do something it has to be done and as soon as you've told them to do it, not on their timescale. It may sound strict or overbearing but in my experience of dogs, in both working and pet homes, the happiest ones who know their place and standing in the pack and they know their boundaries.