Meet Zero, my 3 year old Working Cocker Spaniel. Typical to his breed, he is handsome, loyal, and loving. An excellent family dog. He’s also energetic and intelligent with a strong hunting instinct and a love of swimming and chasing birds. All of these great character traits combine to make it challenging to train him to come when called, especially in distracting environments.


We live on the coast, surrounded by farmland. It is Idyllic, there are endless places to explore and an abundance of distractions for the intrepid Spaniel. We want Zero to be able to enjoy his walks with time off the lead and for that, reliable recall is a must. The trick, I am told, is to make myself more interesting than the birds, the trees and the enticing sea / river / ditch / muddy puddle.


I am Zero’s person.  We have a great bond, and in true Spaniel fashion he is never far from my side (at home),. In fact, I don’t think he has any concept of personal space.

I’m also the person who tells him ‘no’ often. I stop him from doing all the fun things, from eating all the bad things, and I am the one who holds the dreaded lead. 

I’ve always been around dogs, but I’m not particularly experienced in training them and I will admit that I’ve found the process to be challenging and frustrating at times.  Fortunately there is a simple and effective way to teach a reliable recall command: using high-value treats.


High-value treats are any food item that your dog loves and finds irresistible. They are usually different from the regular kibble or treats that you use for everyday training. High-value treats should be something special that your dog only gets when you want to reward them for something very important, like coming when called.

Zero’s particular favourites are the ProReward 100% Chicken Hearts Dog Treats from Thrive. I love them because they are pure and natural, containing no questionable ingredients.  They are nutrient rich, packed with essential vitamins and they are great for dogs with food sensitivities since they are free from preservatives and fillers. Zero loves them because they have an intense flavour. I can’t vouch for that, although all of Thrive’s pet food is made from human grade meat, tested on humans (never on animals) so you could safely try that yourself. I haven’t because I’m vegetarian!


Experts might disagree with me but I don’t think you can ever achieve 100% recall in a dog, especially a Working Cocker Spaniel like Zero - his ears are certainly beautiful but they don’t always work that well. I will settle for a reliable recall so that I can ensure his safety and that of the people and the environment around us as we explore together.

Having a pocket-full of high-value dog treats, reinforced by constant praise and practice, I’m confident that I can become the best thing in the world - at least in the eyes of my dog. Thrive’s 0% nonsense approach to pet food supports me in that, and I’m happy in the knowledge that I’m making the best choice when it comes to Zero’s nutrition, and supporting a company with strong values around promoting animal welfare and supporting the environment. Go and check out their website for more information, your dog will thank you.