Step by step recall training

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1 Step by step recall training This handout details step by step how to teach your dog recall, the training around distractions is very similar to lead work training so please see Step by step lead work training handout for additional information. Giving your dog the chance to exercise and allowing them freedom to do normal dog behaviour such as sniffing, investigating their environment, interacting with other dogs and exercising should be part of your daily routine. Allowing time for them to be a dog is essential for a calm dog in your home. It is however very important that everyone is safe and your dog is under control. While teaching recall it s advisable to temporally use a training line, flexi lead or a secure area to exercise your dog such as enclosed tennis courts. This will prevent them from learning and being rewarded for not recalling e.g. if they have run off after another dog etc, but will still allow them to express normal behaviour. It is very common for children to become anxious when their dog is off the lead, if this is relevant to you, please see the troubleshooting section. It can also be very difficult to teach your dog recall as well as keeping an eye on your children, so recall training should be done behind the scenes when children are at school etc. You will need a treat bag, a mixture of high value treats e.g. hot dog, cheese etc. To begin with teach with whatever food your dog loves, a favourite toy can be used later if appropriate. Off lead areas should be safe, not near livestock and not subject to regulations where you have to keep dogs on leads. Your dog must have a collar and ID disk on and preferably micro chipped. Lesson 1 Aim: to teach your dog to return to you in the home and garden. 1. In a boring place e.g. in the lounge, have treats at the ready. With your dog off lead reward the dog for coming near you with praise and a treat. Let the dog wonder off and again they look at you hold a treat out to encourage them back to you, again praise and reward. 2. Change to a different room and repeat step If your dog is reliably coming towards you, start to put it on a command, such as dogs name and come. If your child uses the dog s name a lot you may want to choose a different word or use their nickname as long as it is consistent. Use a happy voice but be clear. Say the command as the dog is on their way towards you so you are building up the association between them coming back and their name / command Copyright Dogs for the Disabled

2 4. Practice this around the house, calling the dog when they are coming to you, praising and giving them a treat. 5. Build this up to calling the dog when you are in another room etc during various points in the day when your dog is active and likely to respond e.g. not when they are asleep or chewing on a bone etc. Make sure you reward generously. 6. If they are responding well around the house, practice in the garden as this is more distracting, repeat the steps above but don t call your dog mid sniff or if they are likely to need the toilet. Notes If your dog just stands next to you for a treat and won t leave your side, reward them for coming to you with a treat, then throw a treat away from you to encourage them to move away. End a recall session with the jackpot, a handful of treats thrown on the floor and remove your treat bag. Keep sessions very short as you don t want the dog to loose interest. Until recall has been taught, try not to call them to you unless you have a reward, usually an excitable voice is enough to get their attention. Don t call the dog to you to take anything off them, swap items by throwing treats near them, when they have dropped the item and are eating the treats then take the item. If you have problems with this please contact us. If your dog hasn t returned to you when you have called, don t reprimand them, calmly go to them and clip them on the lead or end the session. It s very important that your dog always sees returning to you as a positive experience. It may be that your environment is too distracting, your session went on a little too long or your treats are not motivating enough. Lesson 2 Aim: to teach your dog to return to you around increasing levels of distractions. Before you expect your dog to return to you in the park, you must first replicate distractions you are likely to come up against to teach them to recall back to you no matter what is going on. You can use everyday distractions in your home so it fits into your daily routine. 1. Start with a low level distraction e.g. your volunteer stood still with a boring dog toy or a few bits of your dogs kibble in their hand. With the dog off lead, call them to you using your chosen command. If the dog responds well, with little hesitation, go up a level in distraction. If they hesitate, stay on the level you are at.

3 2. Increase distraction levels e.g. volunteer wiggling their toy or holding more interesting food, making exciting noises / movements. 3. Change to a different room / start to recall the dog away from things happening in the home. e.g. If they are playing in the garden with the children, sat staring at someone eating their dinner, someone squeaking a toy, kicking a ball etc. Remember to reward generously when your dog recalls to you. 4. Practice in other people s house or gardens if there is an opportunity to do so. Also practice on a walk in quiet areas. e.g. Not in the park yet, while they are on the lead, can they look away from the person passing by or the dog across the road etc? (See Step by step Lead work training). Reward with lots or treats and praise. Lesson 3 Aim: to teach your dog to return to you in the park. Using a flexi lead, training line or a secure area, start to teach recall in the places you are likely to want to let your dog off the lead. Try to find a quiet park or go at quieter times so there are fewer distractions. The environment is likely to be very distracting so you will need to make allowances for this. 1. Allow your dog to explore their environment, don t ask anything of them. You should start to notice they begin to slow down, do less sniffing and may start to look at you a bit more. This may take a couple of trips round the park or retracing your steps. 2. Once they have begun to calm down and are more able to learn, when they look at you have treats at the ready and call your dog to you. Reward them for a good few seconds and praise them. 3. If they are responding without hesitation then start to call them when they aren t looking at you. 4. Repeat this for several days going to the same area. You should notice the dog engaging with you quicker and not hesitating in returning to you. Allow your dog to explore between recalls, remembering to keep your sessions short. Notes If a distraction enters the park e.g. another person, dog, squirrel etc and you don t think your dog will be able to recall around that level of distraction yet, don t call them, wait it out, reward them hugely for looking away from the distraction, ignoring it or carrying on walking with you.

4 Lesson 4 Aim: to start to allow your dog off their lead. In your chosen area, if your dog is now responding well to recall and is calling away from set up distractions, you are ready to start allowing them more freedom. If you are using a training line then theirs can be allowed to be dragged behind them. 1. Allow your dog to have a good explore of the area first, you may want to do a trip round the park on lead first to check your dog is responsive. If they are not responding to recall commands then don t let them off. 2. If they respond well and there are no distractions near by, unclip the lead at the same time as putting lots of treats on the floor, encourage them to follow you by dropping treats as you go. 3. As you get more confident allow them a little bit more freedom each time, recalling them to you for a reward if they look at you. Do a couple of recalls with allowing them to have a sniff etc in between and then put them back on the lead. Continue their walk with them on the lead. 4. Each day practice this to build up your confidence. Letting them explore a little further away each time. Perhaps put them on the lead for a bit, so you can relax then a bit further on unclipping it again. If there are any distractions around, keep them on the lead or if they are off, go to them and put them back on the lead and reward them to prevent them from making any mistakes. Notes If your dog sees an unexpected distraction and goes to investigate, go to your dog to collect them. Don t reprimand them for not returning to you. If they have ignored your first call, don t continue to call them. If your dog sees a distraction but does come to you, give them lots of treats and praise. If you are worried take someone with you and practice recalls between you.

5 Lesson 5 Aim: practice recall around distractions in the park. 1. Once confident, introduce distractions slowly. E.g. calling them when there is a dog in the distance or children playing over the other side of the park. Aim to decrease this distance over a period of days / weeks depending on how confident you are in your dog responding to recall. 2. It may be helpful to arrange to meet a friend in the park who you can ask to wait somewhere with their dog on a lead that you can use as a distraction. Gradually get closer to them, recalling your dog to you. When you think you are as close as you can get without your dog running over to them, clip your dog on the lead and walk towards them, get your dog s attention before allowing them to greet. 3. When two dogs are off the lead playing, it can be very exciting, which can lead to them not responding to recall. To start with it s advisable to keep one dog on the lead while the other is off and swap them over. Once both dogs are responding to recall then they can both be allowed off lead to play. 4. If your dog has returned to you after greeting / playing reward them for coming away with you and staying with you so they aren t tempted to run back over to whomever they have just met. Notes It is always advisable to check with other owners before allowing dogs to greet and play. You will get to know the same people in the park and what dogs are suitable and which aren t. If you have a dog that loves squeaky toys or tennis balls etc, it is a good idea to take these as well should you need to get your dog s attention. Tips Keep them guessing e.g sometimes they may get a piece of cheese, hot dog then some kibble, other times they may get 3 pieces of hot dog and a handful of kibble on the floor etc, this keeps them motivated to return to you. Reward them for recalling then you throw pieces near you so they have to watch you and where the treat is going. This increases their focus on you and the time they spend being around you. Rattle their treats. In addition to a treat bag you may want to use a plastic tub with kibble mixed with tasty treats so you can rattle it when recalling, this works well for more distracted dogs as they can actually hear the treats! Bigger rewards for better recalls. Always reward the dog for coming back but reward better recalls with a better reward e.g. if they ve returned to you extra quick or have come away from something really distracting. If your dog has a favourite toy and doesn t run off with it, you can use this as an extra reward, producing it when they have done really well.

6 Reward check ins. When your dog checks where you are, reward them by throwing a treat in their direction or drop a treat and when they turn to look at you, point at it and encourage them to come look for it. This increases their focus on you. Change your pace, again this will help improve their focus on you. Keep walks with you interesting, encouraging them to explore / climb etc, see Scent work handout for further ideas. Use life rewards for good behaviour e.g. if they really want to say hello to their friend in the park, they get to do so once they have recalled to you first or have looked at you first. Giving them permission to go over and greet others really helps them make the right decisions. Don t just recall them when you need them to return to you. Practice several a day, some easy and some more difficult e.g. when your dog is already looking at you, others when they are sniffing etc, so you aren t always calling them away from something they would rather be doing. Troubleshooting There are a few common problems you may come up against when teaching recall, please remember you can contact us at any point for further advice. My dog runs away when I try to put them back on the lead Dogs will soon associate going back on the lead as the end of the fun. You can avoid this by putting them on and off the lead during a walk so the lead doesn t signal the end of your walk. When you recall your dog, put a finger through their collar and reward them before letting them run off again. Also hold the lead in your hand like you are going to clip it on, reward them and let them go off again. I want to use a whistle, how do I teach this Teaching your dog to recall to a whistle is done in exactly the same way as teaching the recall command. You can also use it at meal times if your dog loves their dinner. At every meal time you blow the whistle before putting the food down or of your dog will wait, ask for a wait then blow the whistle to give them to go ahead to eat. This maintains a strong positive association with the whistle. 1. Prepare the food. 2. Ask your dog to sit and wait 3. Walk away from your dog with the bowl of food. 4. Blow the whistle. 5. You dog should run to the bowl and eat the food. We advise you use a whistle you can hear rather than the silent dog whistles so you at least know its working. Children may want to blow the whistle all the time so you may decide that it is something you will just use. Other children may not like shouting so using a whistle may be a good alternative.

7 My dog doesn t like other dogs If this is something that is a problem then please let us know as more detailed training may be required. Also see Step by step lead work training for more details on how to manage your dog around other dogs. If your dog isn t confident then add this to your gradual introductions list and build their confidence up with calm dogs and try not to overwhelm them in busy parks. Speak to the PAWS team on how best to introduce your dog to these situations. If you feel your dog is showing signs of aggression, again, avoid problem areas and contact us. My dog runs over the entire park to greet other dogs / people You can certainly try to be the most exciting thing in your dogs environment but chances are you won t be able to compete with other exciting things going on. Revisit recall around distractions, Lesson 2/3 and add in extra steps with recalling away in set up situations from friends dogs or following dogs in the park and teaching your dog self control around them while on the lead. Teaching your dog a go see command, thus giving them permission and using the other dog as a reward for the right behaviour is very helpful. If your dog jumps up at other people, teach what the appropriate behaviour is to do around people they want to greet separately. If you see people up ahead, put your dog on the lead and reward them for keeping all their paws on the floor as the person walks past. This will get them out of the habit and you are rewarding them for the behaviour you want. Consider joining a training class for more help. Again contact us for more details. My dog s recall was going well but now their training has regressed When dogs reach adolescence, they can become more distracted by their environment, see Coping with adolescence handout. Go back to basics with teaching recall, they need it reconfirming that the same rules apply. Make sure you are still providing nice rewards. Make it easier for them to succeed and minimise chances that they will make a mistake e.g. put them on the lead around distractions, practice recall at quieter times etc. My dog recalls in woods but not in the park Any new area you introduce you will have to re-teach recall until they have generalised it to mean the same in any location. In new areas you may need to reward more often and be more generous with your rewards. Also in places like parks, dogs can see further, which means they may be more distracted, whereas in the woods they can t see at such a great distance or visa versa. If there is an area your dog is better in than others, stick to that area for a while to get them into good habits.

8 My child gets anxious when we let our dog off the lead If this is the case and it effects the dog s free time e.g. they are constantly calling them back or are restricting their movement then it is important that there is separate dog and children outings so the dog is allowed their free time. When children and dogs are out together lead walks are advisable while the problem is addressed. Where dog s don t have good recall this will increase children s anxiety. There are a few strategies that work well: Encouraging hide and seek games at home where the dog comes to find them, this will help build their confidence in the dog coming back to them. Building children s self confidence in general e.g. through tricks you have already trained behind the scenes but asking children to teach the dog the trick. Giving children another focus e.g. giving them jobs like hiding treats for the dog to find / throwing their ball, using a petometer to see how far the dog runs (see Equipment List handout). and see Scent work training handout. Using whistle recall where you have the whistle and children have a timer, encouraging them to call the dog back after a certain amount of time and handing them to whistle to help them feel in control of the situation. Trying to increase the time between recalls. Children having their own treat bag as well so that their dog stays with them, if you have problems recalling your dog away from your child alternative strategies may be more suitable. What do I do if my dog runs away on a walk? This is why it is very important to have the correct identification on your dog and to get them micro chipped. Recall is important to minimise the chances of this happening, but occasionally there may be something that catches your dog s attention. Should you loose your dog on a walk: 1. Try not to panic, as this will affect your voice. 2. Return to the area you last saw your dog and wait for half an hour. The chances are that the dog will start retracing his steps to the last point of contact. It is important that you stay put and give ample opportunity for the dog to find you. 3. Dogs often run back home or to where you parked the car; so phone home and check the car. 4. Voice recall: Use lots of encouragement and give lavish praise if your dog returns. Do not punish. 5. Whistle recall: As above. Remember to use treats/toys as appropriate. 6. If possible, enlist someone to help look for the dog. 7. You should contact as a matter of urgency the Dog Warden for your local authority area. If you are on holiday or away from your own area, then you should contact the local authority in the area where you lost your dog. Also contact neighbouring local authority dog wardens.

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