As we were filling out the adoption papers for Knox, I had dreams of taking him to Crab Park and watching him play with all the dogs, or swim in the ocean, or play fetch with us.
After taking him home, all those dreams were dashed when we learned that he was a little reactive, a little crazy pants, and had absolute zero recall. Determined to fulfill my dream, once we got past those pesky bad behaviours, I enrolled him into Recall class with Shelagh Begg of Dizine Canine.
While we’re only on class 3 of 6, we’re learning (and in most cases, relearning) some important lessons:
- Be FUN! Be so much more exciting than everything else.
- Make recall the best thing ever.
- Don’t only use recall as a removal from awesome things or punishment. No, “GET OVER HERE. NOW.”
- Don’t use a word you’ve worn out.
- Be consistent.
- A formal recall always has a SIT.
- Your dog needs be comfortable about being touched and grabbed.
Are you that guy at the park that constantly yells “Come! Come here! Dog! Come over here now!” You’ve probably worn out “come” and should find a different word.
My favourite resource for dog behaviour training is, no surprise, is from Dr. Sophia Yin. Go through her entire recall archive and soak it all in.
Step 1: Get his attention. You just need your dog to learn to “check in” even when he’s having the best time of his life. What word or sound gets your dog’s attention? We’re using a whistle right now.
Step 2: Grab his collar, tail, scruff, ears, legs, body… anything. After you get his attention, he should be okay with being grabbed, just in case you need to move away from something. There should be no surprise, no anxiety, no running away. Just focus on you 🙂
While working on recall, we’re learning to use the highest of value treats like cheese and sausage. We’ve worked on associating “attention” with super awesome stuff whether it’s using a non-verbal word, a noise, or even his name. You never want to use his name as the attention word or recall word … but we’ve cheated.
We’re still working on it. It’s a long, long process. But my dream is getting a little more real. Sure, we can’t go to a super busy dog park, but when we visited the local unenclosed Charleston Park, he made an amazing 180 spin when I yelled his recall phrase: Let’s go!
It was so good that it even impressed the other owners at the park!
Does your dog have a solid recall? What’s your recall word? Do you let them off-leash?