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Recall Training

Recall Training in Stages

MAKING RECALL TRAINING FUN

Getting the ‘recall behaviour’ going is easier than you think, you need to engineer a situation where it happens then turn it into a brilliant experience for your dog and yes, it involves food, games, being silly, whatever it takes to put a grin on your dog’s face. What it does not involve, is your cue.

Forget the recall command. Forget the cue

This isn’t about barking orders you can’t enforce or saying anything meaningful at all to your dog. This is about one thing only, getting your dog chasing after you.  Fortunately, dogs are curious, and dogs love chasing.

 

NO DISTRACTIONS, NO TESTING

These sessions should be a private matter between you and your dog. Unlike with puppy recall, involving other members of the family in most of these exercises is not recommended.

Try to avoid demonstrating your new skills to anyone.

In demonstrating how clever your dog is, you are testing them in front of people and quite possibly setting the dog up to fail.

We will introduce other people soon enough. Click on the button below to reinforce your knowledge of the “4D’s”.

EXERCISE ONE

The wow factor.

We are going to make sure that this brand-new recall command is in excitably linked to the “wow factor”. 

We want your dog to be blown away by your generosity.

So, you are going to need you boring kibble as well as your nice mouth-watering premium treats.

You need a room that you can close yourselves into to get rid of all distractions.

We recommend that for this exercise to avoid failure you keep a good length lead attached to your dog, to prevent them wandering and making their own choices.

You also need to be in a pleasant mood and have an abundance on free time so as not to rush the exercise.

  • Kneel on the floor in front of your dog.
  • Show your dog a piece of boring kibble in your hand.
  • Move your hand to arm’s length away from you and to the side of you.
  • Keep quiet as you do so.
  • Let the dog go out for and eat the kibble, as they are doing so, take a premium treat into your spare hand.
  • Wait, then as your dog turns to look or even better come back to you, open you hand (do not push it towards the dog, the dog come to the hand).
  • You can now excitedly verbally praise the dog “Yes – Clever dog”.
  • Give another premium treat, followed by another and another (one after the other not all at once).

You want this to be memorable.

EXERCISE TWO

A NEW COMMAND

We are going to reiterate here the importance of a new recall command for your dog.

Don’t be tempted to use an old “poisoned” command that the dog associates with a whole range of consequences you probably haven’t even thought of.

As far as your dog is concerned, if it means anything at all, your old command is more likely to mean “please yourself” than it is to mean” rush to my side”.

This is not useful.

So, ditch your old and worthless command and get yourself a nice shiny new one.

The wow factor with command

We are going to repeat exercise one, but this time as the dog goes out to eat the kibble, you are going to watch them and wait for them to turn to come back to you.

As they do, in an excitable voice give your recall command once only “Here” and at the same time offer your hand with the premium treat in and repeat Stage 7 to 9 in exercise one.

You can perform this exercise either still kneeling on the floor or standing up but remaining perfectly static.

EXERCISE THREE

Commands are great

This is an exercise you can ideally use at meals times.

  • Prepare your dog’s/puppies meal but don’t let them have it.
  • Attract their attention rattle the bowl) in order to make them eager to get at the food.
  • Take a step backwards so that your puppy moves towards you, as they do so give your command using an exciting voice.
  • Let the dog catch up with you.
  • You can now excitedly verbally praise the dog “Yes – Clever dog”.
  • Give another premium treat, followed by another and another (one after the other not all at once).

Again, you want this to be memorable.

EXERCISE FOUR

Commands are great

In this exercise we are going to get the dog /puppy to come towards us on occasions other than mealtimes.

  • With puppy/dog on a long lead
  • Take a step away from the puppy/dog.

(if this proves difficult to manage to step away from the dog/poppy – simple place a treat on the ground as a distraction.

  • Wait for eye contact and then give your recall command.
  • You can now excitedly verbally praise the dog “Yes – Clever dog”.
  • Give another premium treat, followed by another and another (one after the other not all at once).

EXERCISE FIVE

Moving Dinners

  • Prepare your dog’s meal but don’t give it to them.
  • Attract the dog’s attention without saying anything and ensure you stand facing them
  • Start to back away, give your recall command as the dog starts to walk towards you then stand still
  • When the dog reaches you, place the food on the floor and verbally praise in your upbeat manner.
  • Repeat every mealtime, every day for several days.

EXERCISE SIX

Follow my leader

  • Put you puppy or dog on the ground.
  • Put a few feet of space between you
  • Once the puppy/dog is a few feet away, wait for him to look at you and then run a short distance away from them.
  • As soon as the dog/puppy starts moving towards you, crouch down low and give your recall command only once.
  • If the dog/puppy stops moving toward you, move away from him until they start towards you again.
  • As they reach you, get right down on the ground and let them climb on you and give you a good licking while you feed them one of your

ISN’T IT A BRIBE?

If you need to throw treats to attract you dog’s attention and get them moving towards you, then you are correct in thinking it is a bribe. You are clearly giving the dog the impression that you are in “food dispensing mode”. That is OK at this point. When we use a bribe to encourage a dog to move or take up a position, we call it a lure.

Using a lure is perfectly acceptable at this conditioning stage, as we are not trying to train your dog to take responsibility for their actions yet.

We are simply establishing a link in his mind between the action of moving towards you.

EXECISE SEVEN

Follow my leader

  • Put you puppy or dog on the ground.
  • Put a few feet of space between you
  • Once the puppy/dog is a few feet away, wait for him to look at you and then run a short distance away from them.
  • As soon as the dog/puppy starts moving towards you, crouch down low and give your recall command only once.
  • If the dog/puppy stops moving toward you, move away from him until they start towards you again.
  • As they reach you, get right down on the ground and let them climb on you and give you a good licking while you feed them one of your

    premium treats and tell them how good they are.

    Repeat this game many times until your puppy is at least 24 weeks old and has had a minimum of two weeks regular daily practice.

    This can also be used with older dogs when retraining the recall command.

EXERCISE EIGHT

Recall and run

For the first time you are going to use the recall command before the dog/puppy starts to move towards you. Use premium treats to start with and have a sufficient amount so that you can give the puppy a big bonus of several pieces if necessary.

To minimize the possibility that the puppy/dog might not respond, you will trigger the chase response immediately after giving the recall command.

  • Find a safe place.
  • Put some space between you and puppy/dog
  • Give the recall command clearly, once only, the immediately
  • Run away from the dog/puppy
  • Reward the puppy with premium treats when they arrive, crouch down and make a big fuss of him.
  • Repeat steps 1 to 5 several times a day, every day for five days.
  • If you are successful after the first three days, start replacing premium treats with basic treats. Then you should keep rewarding about half of the recalls with basic rewards.

EXERCISE NINE

Recall and walk

As with any change in the level of difficulty of a task, we are going to go back to rewarding every single recall to begin with. Use premium treats to start with.

  • Use a safe place
  • Out some space between you and the puppy/dog. Try to get at least ten yards from them in this exercise.
  • Give the recall command without hesitation
  • Walk briskly and calmly away from the puppy/dog. Keep walking as they start to run after you and turn and face as they arrive near to you.
  • Reward and make a huge verbal fuss of them
  • Repeat steps 1 to 5 several times a day at least for three days.

Repeat for several more days, gradually reducing the value of the rewards as in the previous exercise.

By the end of this exercise you should have a puppy/dog that is thoroughly conditioned to move towards you when they hear the command. The sight of you moving away as the come after you helps keep the enthusiasm high and ensures that they return to you with joy and passion.

EXERCISE TEN

Same room exercise

Have your treats ready on a raised surface or in your treat bag. Make sure that the dog is in the same room as you, that the two of you are alone, that they are awake and not preoccupied with another interesting activity.

You will need to busy yourself in the room so that the dog relaxes and ignores you. Don’t give your dog any additional cues apart from the recall command (only once).

No patting your leg or calling the dog’s name to begin with. We want to give them the chance to respond to the recall command itself.

  • Put some distance between you and your dog
  • Give the recall command
  • When the dog reaches you give lots of excited verbal praise.
  • Now turn away and wait for them to lose interest so that you can repeat the exercise.
  • Repeat at least five times, in the same room, over a course of a day.

    If the dog ignores you DO NOT use the recall word again, but simply make yourself completely irresistible. Crouch down and make squeaky or kissy sounds with your mouth.

    As soon as the dog approaches you “Jackpot” reward and loads of excited praise.

EXERCISE ELEVEN

New Room recall

For this exercise you will start by using a totally different room and repeat the previous exercise, before you start you will need your premium rewards again. You will reward the dog with a tasty and valuable reward for every successful recall in this room. You are now aiming for three in a row.

When you get them, repeat with one premium and two basic ones.

When your dog is consistent coming into you in the new room it is time to practice in one other room in your home that the dog is allowed access to.

EXERCISE TWELVE

Recall from room to room

Wait until the dog is relaxed in one room and take yourself of into another room, if the dog keeps following you, either try again later or place some basic treats on the floor in order to be able to distance yourself.

Once you are both in different rooms, you are going to call the dog by its name and recall command just once.

  • Wait until the dog is relaxed and leave the room.
  • Give the recall command
  • When the dog reaches you praise them in an excited voice and give jackpot premium treats.
  • Repeat the exercise again five times in a row.

The training strategies

To increase our chances of success we need to make use of a number of key training strategies.

Here are the strategies you will need to keep you on the right track:

  • Start with a new command
  • Set the dog up to win
  • Proof thoroughly
  • Give the command only once
  • Use rewards effectively
  • Avoid repeating mistakes
  • Never punish a recall
  • Prevent self-rewarding
  • Accept your dog’s limitations
  • Motivate yourself.

The last one is about you, because without your involvement and commitment your dog can never fulfil their real potential.

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