With the nights drawing in the darkness makes the effectiveness of your recall ever more important....
Allow your dog to succeed....
When teaching a child maths you don’t start with quadratic equations. Why? Because the correct answer is hard for your child to get and will result in a string of wrong answers which are not rewarded which in time will not be motivating. The child will consequently give up as it “I cant do maths!?!?!?!”
You need to help your dog find the right answer to your question in a safe , non-distracting environment then slowly increase the difficulty from there.
A good plan is to start at home, randomly call your dog and have some treats ready in your pocket, or a play toy. Big Praise when she comes to you. Keep it spontaneous throughout the day. But always make a huge fuss when they do come when called. “What a good girl!”
When this is reliable move to a different area. Ie In a garden and practice out there.
Run Away from them!
Dogs love to chase and be chased, one of their automatic reactions to you running away is to follow you. This in turn is great recall!
Again start in a quiet area and simply run in the direction you came from, give them a call and sprint, the faster you run the more intense their drive is to chase you. Your dog will love this game and immediately chase you. Give huge praise when they reach you. I turn and make a bet with myself as to how far I can get before she catches me!
After time you can build it up for when you want them to return to you quickly, if I see a dog walking towards me on a lead, I will shout her name and run the opposite way. She will quickly pursue and then I can easily put her on the lead. Added bonus is we are an extra distance from the other dog allowing me to think about how to get round or help the other dog if it’s nervous.
Play Hide and Seek
If your dog has a reasonable recall and will come to you some of the time this is a great tip. When walking in a wood, or an area with places to hide, wait until your dog is not watching and jump behind a tree. Trees are great because they allow you to peek around and keep an eye on them. Then shout your dogs name loud. They will look up and will be startled by not being able to see you. Some will sniff where you have been. Others will follow your voice. If they run the opposite way shout again. But you must let the dog find you. The idea is they will keep watching to see if you are going to hide again. It also stops them running off as they can’t predict where you will be. I.e Dogs can think that she always walks down this path, I will catch up with her later down. It’s a great game and is amazing for getting a dog to focus on you.
Ideas for success – Make sure your first few attempts are when there is nothing distracting going on. I.e. another dog approaching. You want it to be as easy as possible for your dog to focus on you. When the dog has the idea, you can increase the difficulty from there.
Change paths WITHOUT shouting your dog
If you are calling your dog when you take another path she has no reason to look up and watch you, if you take another path and wait to be seen she will get in the habit of approaching a cross roads and looking at you for direction. This is such an invaluable tool.
It also helps to take a different path to your normal route to keep her guessing. Keep her watching and paying attention to you.
Don’t make coming back to you a punishment. Make it fun!
A high percentage of people will set out on a walk and only call their dog if there is something exciting going on ahead i.e. another dog. Or if the walk is over and they want to put the dog in the car. Neither are fun for your dog. He or she will quickly learn this behavior and some dogs will look around when they have been shouted to see what you don’t want them to chase!
Keep your dog guessing, Call your back to you, run away, change paths or hide several times a walk all with huge praise when they come to you. Even when recall is established you always want them thinking where’s mum rather than focusing 100% on the environment.
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