As a trainer the number one most important factor when you get a dog is to form a relationship. Remember your dog is new to your place, new to environment, new to family and is often very overwhelmed by all this and it does take time for the dog to settle. If you form a solid relationship and take your time this will also help when you want to do recall or build on focus. It will give your dog confidence in you as a leader as well.
How do I build a relationship? Know your dog. Get to understand what they want. What they like. Provide safety, security, food and water, a bed, clear communication, play like tug or ball and also scent tracks for your dog to sniff and explore. Outings but it is also to allow your dog to have time alone so they don’t become overly dependent on you. Don’t be in a rush to take your dog out and show it off. Let the dog settle at home first. There is so much you can do at home first up.
Whenever my dog looks at me I would reward. This is to create more focus and engagement from my dog. I would concentrate on the importance of this. It just means you have to carry some food around with you for a bit. I use the “thumbs up” signal to my dog to let them know at that precise time they have done what I wanted and follow this with the reward. What you will find is that the dog will then start to focus more and more on you. In the long run when the dog is sniffing in the bush you will most likely have the dog checking in on you making your recall much easier.
Do not have a high expectation of your dog.
To teach something like Recall or Come its important to remember it could save your dogs life. When teaching recall I always
I would commence training in a low distraction area like your backyard. This is where your dog feels most comfortable in. If you have dogs on either side of your property that bark or fence run then this is not what I would call a low distraction area so you may have to train your dog inside or in the garage. If you have more than one dog please don’t allow them to be around or in the vicinity of the dog you are training…..Why? Because you don’t want this dog to create a distraction to the one you are trying to train! This is a one on one training session and your other dog will certainly create this distraction and leave your training session with only one outcome and that is failure and you have allowed this to happen!
With your lead on ask your dog to sit, drop, stay or wait and step immediately in front of your dog (about 1 meter). Use a lure of food to complete this request. I would then wave my hand while immediately moving backwards and pulling in the lead to you. You need to be excited in your body language as we want the dogs to want to come to us. When your dog comes to you, reward with a “thumbs up” and a high value food reward. Try and get the dog to do a sit right in front of you. At this stage we are not asking’ too much from the dog so it doesn’t matter if on recall it stands. As you are building on this please do not go more than 3 meters away from your dog. Less is better at this stage.
Repeat this for 5- 10 minutes and finish it up. Repeat again in your afternoon session. Do not over do your training. If your dog loses interest finish the session up.
When your dog is understanding what you are asking and you are not giving any guidance apart from using your hand it is time to add some more distance. You may want to use a long lead or some rope tied to your lead. If you are working at a distance and your dog keeps breaking you need to go back in distance to where your dog is comfortable and work there until proofed. When your dog is responding to this distance again without guidance it is time to ask your dog to sit on recall to you. This is via your hand signal or guidance on return. Just keep it simple especially in the early stages of your training or relationship. Keep working on this until your dog is sitting nicely in front of you each time you recall.
Now to add some low distractions, medium distraction and then higher distractions like your other dog. I would now repeat all of what you have been training in each of the stages out the front of your place. Repeat until it is proofed and your dog is coming freely to you. Do not push your dog. It is not a race. Remember this could very well save a life. You may want to purchase an extra-large long lead.
Once proofed in your front yard it’s time for the footpath. Repeat all steps once again.
Once proofed on your footpath with distractions it is time for a park (not a dog park). A park with low distractions. Repeat all steps. Move to a higher distraction area. Repeat over and over. Perhaps add some high value food in the path of where your dog will be recalling to you. Think outside of the box and what may entice your dog NOT to return to you. See how you go.
It is important to push through all of the areas that may fail your dog!
From here I would move to a low distraction area then medium distraction location and recall. Remember leave your lead on at all times until you are 100% sure. No mistakes please.
Cathy Grant is an NDTF certified specialist trainer and dog rehabilitation therapist for Above and Beyond Dog located in Tarampa QLD.
Cathy uses a wide range of balanced training methods learned from Australia’s leading authorities on canine behavior, expert dog breeders, and specialist dog trainers at the NDTF. She combines this with years of successfully helping dogs that have specific behavioral issues that benefit from long-term rehabilitation programs and holistic approaches.
Above and Beyond Dog Training & Rehab has trained several Hear No Evil deaf dogs including Lexie and Gemma who have now found safe and loving forever homes.