Teaching recall to an older rescue dog

(10 Posts)
ItsAFuckingPotato Thu 16-May-19 19:42:04

How? Is it possible?

Very scatter brained patterdale. Pulls at lead constantly when on lead - is never let off lead! Walked for at least an hour each day.

Where do we start?

OP’s posts: |
BrownOwlknowsbest Thu 16-May-19 20:17:48

Yes it is possible but it will take time. You start in the house where the dog is off lead. Does the dog know their name? Some rescue dogs will have been named by the rescue and be still learning. Call the dog by name and reward with treats or praise every time they look at you. Then move on to 'Rescuepup come' from a few feet away. If they move even slightly towards you, reward. You want to firmly plant the idea that being with you is a great place to be .Very gradually increase the distance until they will come to you from across the room, then from the next room, then in from the garden. When you reach this point start using a long lead to recall when out and about. It is a long slow process but most dogs get there in the end. Good luck

fleshmarketclose Fri 17-May-19 12:16:50

We have had Bella ten months now, she was almost nine when we got her and had no recall. It is pretty much perfect now though in fact I am regularly delighted at her apparent obedience when out and about. We started small and gradually built up. Bella is a gannet so having treats is the best motivation for her to recall, ham, cheese and hotdog sausages are treat of choice here. I didn't start immediately though waited until it was apparent she was attached to us as a family before starting.

florentina1 Fri 17-May-19 15:05:32

We stopped giving kibble in a dish. Instead we fed our rescue by hand. We started at home, house and garden, just calling her and rewarding. We held the treat close to our waist area so that she had to sit in front of us for the treat. If she sees us with a closed fist at our waist she knows it is treat time.

Next we did long lead training in the park and then off lead in a closed area. She is patterjackX and we were told that she would not go off lead. She was 8 when we got her and it took nine months for her to learn recall.

DogHairEverywhere Fri 17-May-19 16:22:27

As BrownOwl says, you want to condition the dog, that when it hears its name, something good will follow (usually food, but could be a toy, if the dog enjoys a game). The danger with using the dog's name is that most people use the name when they are not in 'training mode' so the dog doesn't get conditioned as well as it could be. So, sometimes you call it and reward, and sometimes you just call it without having your reward handy, which weakens the early conditioning.

To get round this, you could use a whistle, instead of their name. The advantage to this is that by the time you have got the whistle, you can also get the treats. To start with blow the whistle every time you feed him, or even better, break the meal into portions and blow the whistle for each portion. To start with, the dog will be there waiting, as you're fiddling about with their bowl, this is good as you want the dog to associate the whistle with the food. Then, over time, you can whistle when the dog is in another room and reward with another food portion.
When you venture outside, you want the dog on a long line, so that they can't choose not to come. So blow the whistle, and if the dog doesn't come, use the line to encourage the dog to you. To be honest, if you've done the ground work in the house, you shouldn't need to do this often.

The other thing to remember, when you're outside, is not to call the dog unless there is a very good chance of him coming to you, so you get lots of chances to reward.
Obviously there will be times when you try and call him, when he's over threshold, and this is where the long line comes in handy.

Theoscargoesto Sat 18-May-19 10:14:32

There is a great book by Pippa Mattinson called something like Perfect Recall, and it's designed for all dogs. Might be worth a look. It's step-by-step instructions and I've heard that the regime works

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Sun 19-May-19 03:34:14

I came onto this thread to recommend Total Recall. I think it even had a chapter on training an adult dog.


BrownOwlknowsbest Sun 19-May-19 18:54:48

I have always been in favour of food rewards for training, but they can sometimes throw up problems as well. I remember one of my rescues, a collie cross, 17 months old and a total juvenile delinquent when we got him. We trained recall with food treats but had to rethink when he cottoned on that he could, possibly, get far more treats when off lead in a field, by simply running off for about 10 yards and then racing back to the humans uncalled and sitting in front of them staring at the treat bag! It was about that time that we started rewarding him with praise, fuss or a game for good behaviour.

Theoscargoesto Mon 20-May-19 19:51:45

@grumpymiddleagedwoman: thank you and OP it is called Total Recall

Floralnomad Mon 20-May-19 20:52:23

The issue with patterdale is the prey drive . We have a patterdale mix that we got from Battersea as an older puppy , he didn’t go off lead until he was about 13/14 months ( maybe older it was a while ago ) . He’s not food motivated at all but is ball obsessed so we used that . He was on a long line for a long while but he will not actually recall so we trained a very strong down and wait . I always carry more balls than he can use at a time so I have one to distract him with if he’s already got one . I’m also very selective about where he goes off lead , fortunately we have a local field / playing area / trine trail that is safe for him so we go there most days , I don’t let him off near water ( catches birds) , woods ( can disappear down holes) , open country ( both of the above + livestock ) , he’s ok on beaches . He is nearly 9 and we still use the down command and than I walk to him as I’d wait a long time for him to come to me and frankly I’ve adapted training so he succeeds not fails .

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