Updated: May 3
Today we have begun work on recall.
This is maybe the most basic lesson. A good recall is simply to have your dog come to you at all times when you call him or her. It is however, the most important one. This is a matter of safety. You want your dog to ALWAYS come when you call him or her. You want your dog to do so immediately and without fail and you want your dog to do so regardless of what else is happening around them. This is the tool that will save your dog from running in front of a car when chasing a ball, from winding up on the sore end of an encounter with a porcupine or worse.
The lesson itself is set up with two people standing between 12 and 15 feet apart. Treats in hand, there is nothing more than calling your dog with the word you want to use, be it come, here or something else. By taking turns calling her you and treating when she does, you teach her that coming to you is a good thing.
While we often use a puppies kibble as her training treat, here we raise the bar by going with tiny bits of cheese, freeze dried liver or other special treats. We want to make this memorable and special.
This word is SO important that I would encourage you not to overuse it, and to be thoughtful about when you do. If you are going to walk in a new direction and want her to join you, find another way of saying so - “Let’s go,” or something else. COME (Here) is something that you want to save for those times when you need her attention, and her response immediately.
I would also save this command for times that you have a treat in hand. Try to keep this command sacred - so that EVERY time she comes to you, she is rewarded and every time you call her she responds. This means don’t ever let her get away with ignoring you. For this reason it is best if initially, you do this on leash, or in a very controlled environment. It is also best, like all training to do this for short periods of time so that you can end on a high note and keep the session positive. It is more important here than in any other lesson that she respond and want to come to you.
Finally, because we are trying to create a highly valuable reward for her returning to us, never allow yourself or anyone in the home to use this word if you are going to discipline your dog, nor even if you want to do something that she will consider less than desirable. If going in her crate is not her favorite thing, go and pick her up to place her in it rather than asking her to come to you so that you can put her away. These precautions will ensure that she always thinks of come as a highly rewarded and desirable activity, rather than something that is sometimes ok, but to be decided upon.
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