We have been working almost exclusively on the recall in highly distracting environments. The highly distractive parts consists of other unknown dogs and people walking by our fenced in yards and the neighbours going in and out of their house. This has always been a source of reaction for our dogs. Strangely, they react to the neighbours on one side but not on the other. Hmmm.
Anyway, the recalls are going super great, and are being done off lead for all the dogs. This is what I wanted to discuss. We always start training on a long line of some sort. Once a dog has an understanding of the recall cue on lead, it must be done with either a lighter and smaller line and eventually no long line. The dog must be able to understand the recall cue while feeling that he is not attached to you in any way. This is when training can get a little tricky and possibly dangerous.
The best way to accomplish this is to train in a fenced in yard, small at first and then larger and larger yards, and areas. I know people who train at off leash, fenced in dog parks when no other dogs are around, and then when there are other dogs as distractions. you just have to get creative.
I have some good friends who have trained their working stock dogs, who live in the farmyard off leash at all times, to come, work stock and be good mannered dogs WITHOUT the use of a shock collar or any collar corrections. They use food. So if you are thinking that is won’t work, it is actually possible, and may not work for you simply because you do not want to do it.