Sunday, August 28, 2011

Teaching Your Dog To Come or Recall

Come is probably one of the most important commands to teach your dog. No one wants to play a great game of chase when you have to leave. Come is not a difficult behavior but it has to be worked on frequently for it to be reliable. I have discovered that some dogs are more willing to come than others. Some are also more easily distracted making them inconsistent with come.

Try using the recall game to teach come.

The Recall Game
This version copyright 2005, all rights reserved, Rebekah Pless
Free for use by anyone as long as author info remains intact.

Having a dog who will reliably come when called is one of the best things in life. This means FREEDOM for your dog. Here is how to teach your dog to RUN to you each time you call it.

1) NEVER call your dog unless you are CERTAIN you can enforce the command. Each time you call your dog and he does not immediately come to you to receive a food reward, you take a step backwards in his learning to come when you call. It is important not to make mistakes when teaching the recall. DO NOT CALL YOUR DOG if there is ANY chance you cannot enforce the command. EVER.
2) NEVER call your dog to you for anything unpleasant. If you need to interrupt a play session, or you are going to trim nails, or if you are about to do anything to your dog that he does not enjoy, GO GET THE DOG. Do not call him to you.
3) FOOD REWARD every single recall. EVERY SINGLE ONE. This means keeping treats in your pockets at all times.
4) Smiles are required equipment when calling your dog. NEVER EVER call your dog in anything but a praise tone of voice. Correction will NEVER help a recall. Your dog must WANT to come when you call.

To play the game you need at least 2 people, and several is great. Each person is given a handful of very small soft treats. I prefer tiny pieces of hotdogs or string cheese. Pieces should be VERY small, even for a larger dog or puppy. I slice a hotdog in half and cut the pieces the size of a nickle. Once people have their treats, they should take a seat around the room with as much room between them as the room will allow.

One person takes the puppy or dog and points him towards the person who is going to begin the game. This person may do anything to get the puppy to come towards him except say the word COME. Clap hands, smile, laugh, show the treat, call PUPPPY PUPPPPY PUPPPPY, or the dog’s name. When it is CLEAR that the pup is committed to going to the person, and ONLY THEN, say the pup’s name, and come. For example, Bailey, COME! It does not matter if the puppy is almost to you, as long as the pup hears his name and the word COME while he is going TOWARDS the person calling.

Hold the hand with the food right up next to your body so that the puppy has to come all the way up to you and touch you to get the treat. Do not feed the treat until you are holding the puppy’s collar. This prevents the “snatch and run” game. Praise and pet the puppy cheerfully while he is getting his treat. Once the pup has had his little tiny treat, it’s time to point him towards another person who does the same thing.

It is extremely important that the participants understand they are NOT to say the word COME unless the puppy is already doing just that.

Play as long as the pup is interested. Main rules, Do not say COME unless the puppy IS coming, hold the treat up CLOSE to your body, and you must be holding the collar to feed the treat.

This simple game does more to build a reliable recall than any other training you can do. Your pup will quickly learn that his name and the word come means TREAT. Each time you call the pup and reward him for coming quickly to you, you build a more ingrained and reliable response. If you are consistent and train this game at least 2 to 3 times per week, you will have a dog who will ALWAYS come when you call it. Most owners list this as a top priority for their dogs. Here is a fun and simple way to attain this goal.

Practice often! Your pup will love this game, and so will your friends.

Some Tips For Training Come
  • Don't run after the puppy. Back away a few steps and they will become interested.
  • Squat down so your not standing over your puppy when they return. It's less threatening.
  • Don't ever use come if something negative is going to happen after they come, like having to stay in a crate while your away.
  • Make sure their name is always used in a positive connotation. If you need to tell your dog no don't attach their name, instead you can make a sound to distract them.

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Looking through youtube videos the other day, I found some videos that said Susan Garrett's Five Minute Recall. The title intrigued me because I thought could come be taught in 5 minutes. So after finding the article I discovered that you need to work on come three times a day for 5 minutes. I had one of those lightbulb moments, I had never thought of training come that much. But of course the results would be great if you trained that often. The idea is also to start with no distractions and then slowly add varying degrees. So the key to teaching come is practice, practice, practice,...

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