For instance, Command Clinic: Recall. I wrote this entry in June of last year, before much of anybody was reading or following. Recall is a super important thing, though, and one of the questions that gets asked a lot in the Internet circles I travel through and lurk at. Just how people think a dog should magically listen to them just 'cause, people also magically think that of course dogs come when they're called. If a dog doesn't, that means the dog doesn't like them personally, right?
You know how you were a kid, and really involved in a game with your friends? Or beating a level of a video game (or at the very least getting to a freaking save point)? That's what being on a walk is like to a dog. I don't even have a point of comparison for the magical mystery tour that the Outside World is for a dog, compared to how it is for us, due to their superior senses of smell and hearing. This doesn't mean we need to be louder than the world (and, for the love of God, don't be), but we do have to elbow in there to be contenders.
After all, we're people. We're smart, right? We can outsmart a dog interacting with an environment, right? So, in addition to having a unique recall cue (whistle, word, whatever), you need to think about what you have in your possession, that your dog gets from you.
It was back in October that I told Elka "drop it" when she had a turkey sandwich in her mouth, and then called her to me, and she did both. While very proud of her, I assure you, I was pretty surprised. If I had a turkey sandwich in my mouth, I don't know that I would have had the same reaction. Her reward? I pulled out the treat bag and let her shove her face in and chow down for a second. Of course I don't remember anymore what I had in it that day; hot dogs, I'm sure, cheese, maybe something like pepperoni or leftover pork roast? Whatever it was, the fact that I reacted with a cue she knew, followed with praise and another cue, and then gave her a jackpot reward was what she needed! If I'd gotten angry, yelled, yanked on her long line, I don't doubt Miss Elka would have just chowed down on that sandwich, to heck with me.
So I took a gamble (that she would listen) but so did Elka; she gambled that whatever she got when she got to me, it would be better than the turkey sandwich in her mouth. Good thing she'd never heard of Aesop's fable: "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush." You want your dog to take this gamble. You want the potential of what you have to be better than whatever it is they've already got. Then reinforce this, time and time again, so that the one time it really is dangerously important, and you don't have a great reward right there, it isn't a dealbreaker, because of course your dog is going to recall when you ask her to. You've just got that kind of a partnership.