|Nick, CGC, WETX|
I like wet, fowl- smelling things
|Barked: Sat Apr 24, '10 10:21am PST |
|Here a basic summary I posted a long time ago for how to get started training recall:
In the beginning, never call your dog if you have any doubt that he’ll return to you. So assume (until he is trained) if he is doing something he loves that he won’t and go get him.
In the beginning, never call your dog for something that he may consider unpleasant like to go inside and stop playing, a bath, etc. Don’t chase your dog (unless you are playing a game unrelated to recall).
Start with classical conditioning: Use a whistle. It is a unique sound, is neutral, has no inflection and is easy for a dog to hear at any distance. “Charge” the sound of the whistle. “Charging” is another way of saying - give him something for nothing - just so he associates the recall cue with something great. Think Pavlov. Here’s what you do:
Wait until he is in the same room with you, perhaps just lying around, as long as he is not engaged with you in any way - blow your whistle and reward him immediately….repeat that 5-6 times. The whole process should take no more than 10-15 seconds. At this point the dog is not moving you have gone to him and done this. Don’t say anything and when you’re done go sit down again or go about what you were doing. Do this sequence 3-4 times during the day. The concept is something for nothing and you are conditioning him to the sound of the whistle. Do this for 3-4 days.
Then for the next 2-3 days while you are in the same room with him blow the whistle but let him come to you. Do that 2-3 times and 3-4 times/per day. Again, don’t say anything. The next day, blow the whistle when you are in a different room, let him come to you. Jackpot him (5-8 pieces of treat given one at a time), don’t say anything but a little while later do it again when you are in different rooms. Do that 4-5 times during the day. Next hide in your house somewhere (don’t make it too difficult) and blow the whistle, make him find you. Do that a few times over a couple of days.
Don’t skip any steps….don’t think just because the dog is performing well/responding quickly that you can move ahead more quickly – you are building a lifetime association between the sound of the whistle and recall…take your time.
In the first weeks of training, every time your dog starts to come to you spontaneously for any reason blow your whistle and when he arrives “jackpot” him. For instance, you just got home from work, you know he is going to greet you anyway, well, whistle and jackpot! During this early training time make sure your practice daily and often. Think how many times a day formally and informally you practice “sit” with your dog and that's the easiest of cues. Recall is the hardest and often the least practiced.
Think of it this way: If he gets a cookie for sitting on cue in the living room he should get a case of cookies for coming when called. That’s the difference. Sitting in the living room is easy for the dog. He is comparing it to the fact he really wasn’t doing anything too interesting anyway or something he could get back to as soon as he finished the cookie. But outside if he stops to return to you the squirrel he was chasing will get away. So that return is worth a lot more than a cookie, maybe more than a case of cookies unless he gets to chase squirrels a lot.
When you are confident he is responding fast in the house. Go outside to an enclosed area (like a fenced backyard) with no distractions. As soon as you are outside give the command and treat a couple of times, something for nothing, this is priming him. Now start to play a game he likes and in the middle of it when he is close to you blow your whistle and jackpot, then keep playing. This becomes a daily thing for awhile. He begins to learn that coming to you doesn’t end fun things it just adds some benefit in the middle. Of all the reactions you get from your dog you want him to remember the reward for recall and anticipate it when he hears the recall cue. If you go to the dog park, just before you go in use your recall cue and reward twice, leave that as his last memory before you open the gate. Gradually, add distance and then distractions, never add both at the same time. Go slowly. By the way, the reward/treat should be something you only use for recall training and be very high value! Do not train any other behaviors with it. Make it special.
ETA: Don't want to make this too long but if you want a detailed protocol through advanced off-lead training send me a pmail.
Edited by author Sat Apr 24, '10 10:23am PST