RRR – Really Reliable Recall
This is adapted from our Devon Dogs training handouts. You should have two recalls: A good everyday recall – (that comes from the Name Game) and an emergency recall – (this is a conditioned response, a reflex reaction to your signal). To start training you need 3 things:
Set your dog up to be successful; plan for success so he doesn’t make a mistake. Allow your dog plenty of off-lead exercise in a safe, fenced area (beg, borrow, find one somewhere) on a long-line 10-20ft long with knots in it every 2ft so that you can get your dog back without calling him at the moment. Play retrieve games, using two toys or balls (be careful that they don’t stick in their throat), throwing one then the other, exchanging them with your dog, so they’re learning to bring playfully retrieve them for you.
This is built on trust and co-operation. The quickest way to this is to hand-feed, using his daily ration as rewards for nice behaviour. Play with your dog frequently. Turn your training sessions into play, whilst keeping them short and sweet. Again, use their meal as a reward, together with toys and jumping games.
Games like hide n seek help to train your puppy to pay attention to where you are. Try Puppy in the Middle with two people alternately calling puppy and playing or treating when they come.
This is the easy bit and here are the Rules:
- Never call your dog for anything they don’t like, e.g. leaving for work etc. Always ask yourself if they think it’s a good thing.
- Reward your dog anytime they comes to you, even if you didn’t ask.
- Don’t call if you think they won’t come. This is very important– they are not a trained dog yet.
At the start of the Really Reliable Recall (RRR) continue practising the Name Game so that your puppy truly believes that when they hears their name in the tone of voice you use in the Name Game they will definitely get rewarded. If you mess up and they don’t look: run off, act as though you are playing on your own in an excited and surprising manner.
Whatever you do: Don’t Repeat the Name. You are conditioning your puppy to react to his name in that tone of voice – in the end; they won’t be able to help responding to it. Your everyday recall will be your dog’s name plus the cue ‘Come’. Your RRR Signal needs to be different to your everyday recall so you need to choose one, i.e.
- Spot NOW!
- Spot HERE!
- Spot YAHOOO!
Finally, this signal must NOT be used for anything else.
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About the Author: Lauren Langman is responsible for the design and development of all Devon Dogs classes, events and workshops. She competes in Agility at Grade 7, the highest rank of competition in the British agility arena. She regularly competes and wins at top agility events in the UK including Crufts and Olympia, and has represented the UK at World Agility Championship level on many occasions.