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Puppy Recall - getting it right

(9 Posts)
Collaborate Sat 04-Jul-15 08:14:00

So, Dpup is 8 mths old and confined to barracks (first season).

She's done well at obedience class so can now, even without treats, sit, come to heel, do a finish, down, stay and walk to heel (though her obedience is much more immediate with a treat in hand - helps her focus wink).

When we go back to obedience the trainer has said we should give the advanced class a try.

I'm trying to work on her recall. In the park, where I walk her off lead, her recall is very good, but she does get side tracked when there's another dog to play with. Bearing in mind a recent thread on here, I want to get her better.

I have a whistle and she responds to that. However if she's focused on another dog and heading their way the whistle won't always work.

In the garden yesterday I had my son playing football with her. The whistle wasn't really effective. She heard it, looked at me, then carried on with the ball. I had some high value treats (hot dog sausages) on me too.

Is there any other way I can approach this? She'll come immediately to the whistle if she's mooching around.

Any tips gratefully received.

MostAmused Sat 04-Jul-15 09:18:33

Is it possible she's hit her teenage phase? She might start to think she knows better for a while. Her motivations might change so she becomes less interested in food. If she likes games, have you tried changing the treat to a game instead? So she learns that recalling could mean a treat or a game of fetch etc.

Collaborate Sat 04-Jul-15 09:45:29

Worth thinking about. She particularly likes squeaky toys. I shall bait her with one.

She's still well motivated by treats though. Particularly the hot dog sausage ones.

StarsInTheNightSky Sat 04-Jul-15 09:58:25

I have a different signal for when I want my dogs to return to me immediately when they're distracted. I clap my hands twice, and they know that means that they stop whatever they're doing and come back as quickly as possible. I practiced it with a very long piece of rope and got DH to prance around doing distracting things grin. I didn't use treats, but when they came back I made an enormous fuss of them every time, really going overboard.

I didn't use the return command (we use "to me") as I didn't want them to confuse the two, I wanted them to separate normal recall from stop what you're doing and come back immediately. I started by clapping twice and tugging lightly on the rope until them came back and sat by my feet. I kept doing it over and over, gradually reducing the tugging until they responded to just the claps. They I let them loose and did it over and over. Then I started doing it in the house, I would just clap twice out of the blue and then make and enormous fuss when they came back. I wanted them to get used to the fact that clapping means return to my side regardless of where we are or what we're doing.
I also used to give levels of praise, so the quicker they return, they more elaborate the fuss made of them, although that does result in two giant dogs bombing back to me at full pelt and then skidding to a halt! I didn't make it into a game though, as I wanted them to know that I was serious about them coming back and that they needed to be in a calm responsive mindset. We don't live in the UK, so if I call my dogs back there could be a large predator nearby (normally they deal with them before I've even seen they're there though), or I could be worried about something and I need them focussed.

That was what worked for me, but my dogs respond quite differently to a lot of things, they're a giant breed and both are rescue dogs, both are also highly human and dog aggressive with anyone other than DH, DS and I unless told to tolerate the person/thing, again very typical of the breed. It sounds like your dog is doing absolutely brilliantly so far, and moving to the advanced class is a real accolade smile.

villainousbroodmare Sun 05-Jul-15 19:53:10

She must never ever get to ignore you. If you don't think she'll come, don't call her, rather go and get her. If you do call her and she doesn't come, give yourself a quick smack and go and get her. Run away to encourage her to follow you, or hide. Disappearing behind a tree is a good trick. High value treats.

villainousbroodmare Sun 05-Jul-15 19:57:16

Also, often the VERY best value treat is getting released again straight away. If you saw me dog-walking you'd think I was mad. I often drop to the ground and hide, sometimes climb a tree. I'll call my dog or whistle, he'll dash back and high-five me and then I send him off again. He doesn't care much about hot dogs or cuddles when he's out and about.

cathpip Sun 05-Jul-15 20:00:30

Treats never worked with my dog, putting him on a lead for five minutes after a bad recall did smile

Collaborate Mon 06-Jul-15 00:09:35

Thanks for the ideas, all. Much food for thought and work to be done. Was practicing her coming to heel and her finish this evening and she was superbly fast. I think it's just the focus on me I need to concentrate on for now.

villainousbroodmare Mon 06-Jul-15 11:05:06

Another few ideas. One of the most effective commands I have is "wait". Wait means stop exactly where you are and don't move until I catch up to you and signal that you can go with a long deliberate stroke from neck to hips (may not be the instant I catch up with you). This is much easier for a dog who's keenly interested in something that they can see ahead; it makes sense in their heads for them to pause and allow their boss/ colleagues to catch up. Much more intuitive for them than retracing their steps. It's v easy to teach if you enlist DP. He and DPup walk ahead together, you call "Wait," and they pause until you release them. "Wait" allows me to never really put a lead on my dog. We use it to cross roads and to re-engage with each other. The fact that the release is a very deliberate manoeuvre means that he doesn't dash off when I reach him and I can put his lead back on if I need to.
I really love the clicker for distance work. It allows you to signal that the animal is correctly responding to hand signals etc. Another thing that helps this is the grin.
Get into the habit of giving your dog a big grin +/- a click if they look back at you and you're happy with them. It keeps them checking in.
When out for a walk, often sit down with your dog and just spend five minutes resting and watching what's happening. Again, re-connects you and emphasises to them that you don't need to be constantly on the march.

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