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Puppy recall - what worked for you?(11 Posts)
7 month old working cocker has training sessions twice a week with separate trainers, I do further work with her at home.
But despite hours of training; her recall around other dogs is none existent. I am so sick of carting around a long line and constant vigilance on walks; I feel like I’m going to be tripping over and tangling in the bloody thing forever.
Please share with me your best tips for recall.
I have a working cocker and his recall pretty much disappeared totally from 6 months of age. It got better around 10 months and is now 100% as long as I have a ball in my hand.
I did lots of things such as being unpredictable so I would turn and walk in the opposite direction so he would have to keep an eye on me and played hide and seek but it was only when I stopped walking and started 'hunting' with him did I see a big difference. Yes the maturity helped when he stopped being a deaf teenager but the biggest break through was the ball.
I started to hide it in low forest fern or high grass and we played 'find it' and then I would throw it so he got to release his chase instinct. For a long time I stopped walking and just did this which was the only thing he then wanted to do. I practiced recall over and over but the reward was the ball rather than treats as even high value treats didn't match up to a 'play'. Now I try and combine walks with 'playing ball' and he sticks to me like glue even with other dogs, rabbits and deer right next to us.
Essentially I found out what he was far more interested in than any other dog. Being a cocker I would totally focus on the 'working' instinct of flushing and retrieving (you could use balls or buy proper dummies from gundog stores online) to become exciting to be around.
Even today we got out of the car and he picked up a scent and was off hunting with his nose to the floor. Used the whistle to recall him back and he came hurtling back as he knew I had a ball and he got rewarded with a game straight away.
Do you have any gundog trainers near you? They would really help you tune into their natural instinct.
We’ve a working cocker x working lab and I’d second @BiteyShark re using retrieval instincts; tap into that and you’ll become more interesting than other dogs. Ours gets lots of admiring comments for recall / focus on us but tennis ball manufacturers deserve most of the credit. tbf he looks as us a bit mad if we throw anything but a ball and only reluctantly retrieves it. This despite my husband having lots of experience training gundogs. Persevere and you will lose that long line. Good luck.
She's 7 months and has a teenager brain, the recall will improve!
A few thoughts:
1) Up until 12 months while they're still learning only use recall command when you know its going to happen successfully (i.e. if they'reoff chasing something don't even call, just go get them).
2) One failed recall undermines the last 50 succesful recalls.
3) Keep a special reward (specific food or toy) just for recall. They've got to be excited about it.
4) Have two "recall" words. One for "come back to me when you're ready" and one for proper recall "come this instant ". Only use the good treats/toy for the latter.
5) If they recall to you always be relentlessly positive, even if they were doing something they shouldn't.
6) Practice recall everyday in house/on walk when you know they will come to reinforce.
Havn't got a cocker but PP ideas sound good about tapping into breed traits sound good.
I recommend the book “total recall” and whistle. You just work through the book step by step and don’t move on until they are reliably performing.
I had a similar thread on here a while ago. Biteyshark (and others) were really helpful then (waves at Bitey!)
Since my thread, I've read Total Recall, and I've found things my dog likes (squeaky toys, I've had great success with squeaky balls in particular) and we're doing the groundwork that the Total Recall book suggests. I also realised that I wasn't being much fun on a walk, so I've upped my game (hiding, changing direction, taking high value treats with me). I can see I'd rather thought of training as a thing you did, and everything was ok from then on, but have started to understand that it's an on-going exercise every time you interact especially on a walk.
I hope that helps: I know when I posted my thread I was feeling really inadequate but working on me as well as the dog has helped. Good luck!!
Waves back at Theoscargoesto. Glad things are progressing with your recall. Recall training was the hardest thing I ever did with my dog but was definitely worth it in the end. I can never fully relax though as there is always the possibility of a 'moment' with them so we always practice a few times even now.
My patterdale x doesn’t recall well at all but he has a rock solid down command so if I need him to stop he drops and waits for me to get to him , I think it’s part stubbornness on his part and also easier for him to understand . It may be worth a try .
My girl is almost 7 months, and her recall is 0 around other dogs, I have to call her back before she can see them and put her on her lead. I've taken her to a special course of recall classes, it helped a bit with recall games etc. But shes going through her teenage phase so I know she will pretend to be deaf.
The trainer has suggested that every time she ignores me she goes on her lead. So being offlead is a privilege, not just expected on every walk.
Mine I trained with a whistle and irresistible little chunks of rare roast beef. I have been lucky though as she is always focused on me and has been easy to train. She will even leave other dogs if I blow the whistle, but these days the treats aren't always so interesting!
Our previous dog, a jrt, would only come if there was nothing more interesting going on. I would frequently run away from him making strange noises (I was told I sounded like a cross between a turkey and a chimp), this always got his attention and he would come running after me. Luckily I am not easily embarrassed these days.
Just popped on to MN specifically to post an almost identical thread. 10 month old Billypup has just decided that recall doesn't apply to her. long periods in the woods with no dog in sight shouting her recall phrase that was 100% reliable the day before to no avail.
I can not think of anything that is more appealing to her than the chasing squirrels or pheasants which is what she has been doing when absent.
I'm gong to borrow my friends secure dog field a few times over the next couple of weeks, but we are lead on only at the moment and I've even relented and bought a Halti as she snapped my back out for a month chasing pigeons.
So thank you everyone, I will go and hunt down the book and let you know how we get on.