Want a really reliable recall? Read on…
Welcome to our tips series on recall! This week we are sharing our top 5 training tips.
Tip 1: Where is the love?
Do you know what makes your dog tick? What do they find reinforcing? Where is the value? What do they desire?
If you’re struggling with a recall challenge, the first thing to do is to become your dog’s geek. What distracts them and rate the distractions from 1-10 (10 being super distracting!). Know what it is that you can’t possibly recall your dog away from and stay away from those distractions for now – and yes, that may mean altering your walks for now but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Knowledge is key and to be successful in training you need to set your dog up for success with the opportunity to be appropriately positively reinforced by you with something your dog finds rewarding. That’s the next task; think of all the things your dog finds rewarding and rate them from low to high in terms of value. Be creative!
Now look at your relationship. When out on a walk, does your dog hang out with you or check in with you frequently, or are they off in the distance enjoying the world without you? If its the latter, you need to tip the scales and build value in close proximity to you. To get started, ditch the dinner bowl and feed your dog’s daily food for simply being close to you. Dogs are super smart, if you always reward your dog for being close to you, where do you think they’ll likely choose to go?!
Tip 2: Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse with Games, Games, Games!
Does training your dog make you smile? Do you both have lots of fun? If the answer is sometimes or no, then we need to shake things up for you!!
We adore games based training. Training shouldn’t be a challenge, it shouldn’t be a chore, repetitive or boring…it should be pure unadulterated fun for you AND your dog!
Now, there are so many fun relationship and recall games to play! There truly is a wonderful world of games that awaits you, but we’re not going to list them here!
Instead, if you haven’t ordered your copy of the DVD from our friends over at absoluteDOGS called Leash Off Game On, then what are you waiting for!!! Its FREE! You only pay the postage. Trust us, the games that are played on the DVD will motivate and inspire you! And once you’ve put the work in, we can guarantee that your recall challenges will seem a thing of the past!
Here’s the link for you. Enjoy! https://game.absolute-dogs.com/leashoffgameon
Tip 3: Build distractions GRADUALLY
Awesome! So you’re working on games to build value in your relationship with your dog and this, by the way, is the key to recall training! Recall games are relationship games really! Oh no, the secret is out!!!
Start every new game in your home. Choose a room that is sterile to your dog, in terms of absolutely minimal distractions, we’re not talking cleanliness! So choose a quiet space, away from your other dogs and family members. Practice and get tons of success there. Once you have nailed it in that location, move to a different, busier room. Then out in your back garden, then out in your front garden, then a quiet spot out and about….and so on.
Build the layers of learning gradually. We can’t emphasis this enough as this is where people tend to get it wrong. They increase the difficulty too quickly and the dog fails and both owner and dog get frustrated. Don’t let that be you!
In Tip 1, we asked you to write down your dog’s top 10 distractions, 1 being an easy one to recall your dog from, 10 being an absolute no-go at the moment. Use that information when looking for environments to practice the games.
When your dog is ready to practice in a new environment, we also recommend that you pretend to yourself that this is the first time you are introducing the game to your dog and start from the beginning stages when teaching it and progress from there. Dogs can’t generalise. Just because your dog is great at a game in your kitchen, it won’t mean they’ll get the knack of it straight away in an brand new environment to begin with. They’ll likely pick it up quickly, but don’t assume they already know the game when starting out in a new location.
Tip 4: Be Consistent, Be Clear
You know what makes your dog tick, you are practicing the games and you are gradually increasing the distractions and difficulty. Awesome! You are well on your way to recall success!
Now for some troubleshooting, what to do if you get failure. It may happen as dogs are dogs at the end of the day, so you need to have a plan of action if this happens. The first thing to always have in your mind is what do you want? When playing the games what should they look like? Write it down if you need to. Having clear expectations is key.
When out and about, we always recommend that when you are practicing the games have your dog in a harness wearing a long line clipped to the back. The long line can be trailing, or you can stand on the end. If you’re playing one of the games and your dog loses focus, is distracted by something or runs off, the long line will help to stop any potential self rewarding behaviours.
If this happens, laugh, don’t get frustrated or angry. Reset and try the game again. If you are getting lots of failure, do you know what?! You guessed it, you have increased the difficulty too soon. This is feedback for YOU! If this happens go back a stage. Don’t be in a hurry to nail recall training. Remember the tortoise and the hare?!
This one is the last one in our series and we hope you have enjoyed our tips on recall training.
Tip 5: Go Wild!
We get it, you don’t want to be labelled ‘crazy dog lady or man’ but seriously, who cares when it comes to celebrating success with your dog. They did it right! Go wild!!! Reward like crazy!!!
Ok, so to put it a different way, imagine passing the most difficult exam of your life. An exam you have spent months preparing and getting stressed revising for. Now imagine everyone around you saying ‘well done’ in a boring and uninterested fashion with a monotone voice. How sad and frustrated would you feel?! All that hard work and no-one is getting excited with you for passing!! Same goes for your dog! Join them in celebrating that moment of success! Go nuts!
When your dog does something right really tell them about it. Have a party, reward, play, jump around, woop, cheer!! Go on, let your hair down!! Or as we say here at Devon Dogs, dye your hair purple!
Read more of our Thursday Training Tips HERE.