Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Recall on Command

This post recycled from this day in 2004.

A solid recall on a dog is a simple command that is easily taught if you take time, keep your dog hungry, and regularly visit a fenced dog park.

Time is the key issue -- every day over three weeks.

The first step is getting the dog really hungry. Simply withhold food for 24 hours or even 36 hours -- the dog will be fine!

Now go to a fenced dog park or tennis court and, just before you let the dog loose, let the dog know you have some dry kibble in your pocket. Give it a few piece and release it to play with the other dogs.

Every once in a while, whistle and when the dog comes (or when the dog comes without a whistle), slip it a few pieces of kibble. If the dog sits in front of you, ignore it (don't look at it) until it goes away. Let it play for a bit before recalling with the same whistle every time.

Never leash the dog -- let it continue to play between whistles and always feed it a bit (not much!) when recalled. This is a "pure reward" game for the dog.

If you do this every day for a week, and every other day for two more weeks after that, your dog will have an excellent recall.

After the core behavior is shaped (i.e. after the first week), do not feed every time -- sometimes a good tousle of the head and effusive verbal praise is better . . . . plus it will keep the dog hungry longer which means you will get more recalls for a cup of food.

Keep the reward assured, but the type of reward uneven.


Anonymous said...

I have done this using a 30 foot lead. I let the lead play out and then called the dog in. If he would not come I reeled him back and baited him with food. After a few times he is coming without reeling and I take him off lead. With the very long lead the dog thought he was free rather than on lead.

Mongoose said...

How are you supposed to withhold food from your dog for 24 hours every day for a week?

PBurns said...

You withhold food for 24 hourse before the FIRST time Mongoose -- so he comes for food even though in the past everytime he has come for food you have put a leash on him. After you work through that problem (which is the key problem for most people and most dogs), you simply make the dog work for ALL food given that day. Surely this is obvious, as you are feeding the dog at the park? I do not mention a small problem -- a lot of other dogs will soon figure you have food -- but in practice I have not found this to be too much of a problem.


T Ray said...

This seems like a good idea. My problem is that my dog doesn't want me to put on the leash. When I try she lays down on her back and moves my hand back by trying to bite me. How do I get her to stop doing that so I can put the leash on and take her for her walk at the tennis court??

PBurns said...

I'm assuming the dog is a puppy?
Just push the dog's head back and assert some mild dominance. A scruffed puppy quickly learns he is not the alpha and thia is important. Also, consider leaving the leash on while the dog is in the house and following you around -- it needs to get used to it. My dogs bound up to get their collars on in the morning, because they ONLY get fed AFTER they get their collars on. "Will work for food" is tattooed on the heart of most dogs (and most people too!).


T Ray said...

She is 2 yrs. will be 3 in jan. and she stays outdoors.

Jonathan said...

Pat, do your come out of the settes on command as well? Im not being sarcastic, I've just never seen a terrier that will come out on command while it is baying?
Jonathan CT

PBurns said...

I wish!

I have had dogs underground for a very long time in an undiggable earth, when it was cold, wet and I wanted to either go home or get moving. Standing around top side for two hours while water drips off my nose and wind howls down my neck is not an ideal time in the woods!

As a general rule, I find the trick to getting a dog to come out is to back off and sit under a tree some distance away. No walking around or digging or smoking or talking. My dogs know it's a partnership and will come out to see if I have lost them after a half hour ... or an hour ... or more. If they have a squalling coon underground, however, they will stay until hell freezes over. My dogs would rather work than eat or even have sex, I think. A critter than makes noise is very high motivator for them.