5 Steps To Teach A Reliable Recall

5 Steps To Teach A Reliable Recall

5 Steps To Teach A Recall

When asking a client what their goals are for the end of a session, coming when called is almost always on the list. It only makes sense, because it is a life saving behavior – behavior being the key word. A lot of owners have a misconception that dogs understand the word “Come” and expect them to appear when the magic word is used. However, “Come”, just like sit or walking on a leash needs to be taught. Here are 5 step to teaching a reliable recall.

1. Charge the Word

If you use a clicker or marker word, you need to give meaning to the noise by pairing food or rewards with the noise. People often introduce the word “come” without it having any meaning to the dog. We want to charge the word with a very tasty, very high value treat. With the dog on a 6 ft leash, say the word “Come”, start to back up, and click or use your marker word when the dog moves with you and give them their reward. It is important to do this exercise for a solid week so that our dogs are developing a muscle memory response when they hear that word.

2. Never Punish A Recall

Never punish the dog for returning. Take it as a learning experience as to why the dog didn’t come back. Was the distraction too great? The key to getting a reliable recall is to always keep it positive and enjoyable from the dog’s perspective.

3. Make It A Game

If coming when called can be as exciting as a game of fetch or teaching a favorite trick, dogs would be far more reliable. Playing a game of round robin where the dog runs as fast as he can between two or more people to get his tasty recall reward can be a lot of fun and a great way to create a reliable recall. A game of chase where the dog chases you is also a great way to work on recall.

4. Increase Distractions Gradually

Once the word has been charged, it is time to gradually build distractions. Begin indoors and then outdoors while keeping the dog on a light long line. This provides the dog with some freedom while preventing them from running away. “Come” should not be used unless the client is willing to place $100 on the fact that the dog will come. If they aren’t willing to wager that then the distraction is likely too great and therefore the word should not be used.

5. Be Unpredictable

Don’t always call the dog when he is doing something that we find is less than desirable or something fun (like playing with other dogs or chasing a squirrel). Call the dog when he is doing nothing at all, too. The more often recall is practiced when it is easy, the quicker the dog will build muscle memory. Muscle memory will make it so that when distractions are tough the dog will quickly leave whatever is exciting and come back to you without thinking at all. When the dog comes to you be unpredictable in your generosity. Sometimes its only one tasty morsel of steak or sometimes its 10. This helps to prevent the dine and dash effect. This helps to create a dog that will hang out for a moment when he comes back.

Taking the time to build a reliable recall will allow the dog to have more freedom off leash in the future. This is one life-saving behavior where I encourage students to reward for life and always practice so that it never gets rusty.

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What Is The Point Of Using Food In Training?

What Is The Point Of Using Food In Training?

Using food in training is your best option to create social, confident, and obedient dogs for your clients.

Many modern dog trainers utilize food in training. While food is an incredibly practical way to motivate dogs, it serves another important functions when it comes to the dog’s confidence. Simply put, food has the power to change how an animals feels about certain situations.

using food in training

In the article “Preventative Counterconditioning…because bad stuff happens” by Awesome Dogs, the trainer uses an unexpected life event as a chance to countercondition her dogs before they get a chance to make an emotional connection to the situation. Her neighbors were having a huge and loud party and she took the opportunity to feed her dogs chicken. This ensured that the dogs made a good, positive association with the experience before they could decide for themselves.

Proper Socialization

Proper socialization should occur in this manner as well. Its important to help the puppy learn about their environment and teach them that the world is a fun a safe place. Socialization will occur either way so you need to step in and make sure they are creating positive connections with their discoveries by using food in training. In other words, this is also a form of “preventative counterconditioning.”

Chicken Is Powerful

Food has the power to change a dog’s emotional reaction towards stimuli (people, dogs, and other possibly scary things). It is easily deliverable to the dog’s mouth as they observe their environment which makes it an ideal tool to use in training. Granted the dog is not over threshold and too close to their feared trigger, food can help teach a dog new behaviors while creating positive associations and connections in their brains. Just like when people eat their favorite comfort foods, those “feel good” chemicals called endorphins are released in the brain. That warm fuzzy feeling is then paired with the dog’s trigger to make a new connection – “that scary thing makes awesome stuff happen, maybe it isn’t quite so scary anymore!” Basically, food has the power to make the world less scary for any dog.

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