I looked over, wondering what he meant.
Freya as usual, was insisting on training and doing tricks at me while Brontë wimbled happily by my side. Laird was thundering back towards us.
The chap wanted to know how I managed to get my dogs to come back when I called them. He had a little Lhasa apso who was very definitely staying on lead.
“With cheese and balls” was my mostly serious answer!
We had an interesting conversation about making sure we give our dogs a good reason to come back to us and how we might start training it.
And then, I came home to open my email and found a message from Jane and John (not their real names) who have been working hard to stop their big retriever crossbreed from charging off to greet other dogs and ignoring any suggestion from the owners that she might want to come back.
Your training works!
It was busy with dogs today so it was a good test for her. She did very well and we were really chuffed. We then met some friends who have 3 dogs. They kept remarking about how calm she was compared with when they’d last seen her 2 or 3 months ago. She was almost laid back with the other dogs!
Recall, or coming back when asked to, is one of those essential life skills.
It can turn walking your dog from a tiresome task into a pleasant enjoyable experience.
And when we talk about recall, I need your dog coming back promptly when you call or whistle them. Not just coming back at the end of a play session or after chasing the rabbit!
It’s a deceptively simple process, but you have to be consistent in your training and only take tiny little steps forward when your dog is really ready.
The not-so-secret Secret Recipe for Recall
- start playing games that encourage and reward your dog when they pay attention to you (parkour, scentwork, tracking, hand targets, and anything else)
- stop letting your dog run off and ignore you (long lines are your friend)
- start teaching a brand-new recall cue (a word or whistle pattern) and link it with the best ever reward for your dog (find their crack cocaine)
- practice the new recall in very low distraction places to begin with (inside the house, in your garden, in a secure field and so on)
- gradually build up the level of distraction and always be willing to drop back a stage if your dog is struggling
If you're reading this email or blog, and have an nagging sensation that your dog's recall is not as good as it could be, why not commit to recall being your summer training project?
- It’s never too late to sharpen up or introduce a reliable recall.
- It really can save your dogs life.
- And it will improve their quality of life and yours!
I would love you to come and post in our small friendly private Facebook group if you’re taking on the summer recall challenge. https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellConnectedCanine/
What steps are you taking so that your dog isn’t practising the wrong thing?
And do you know what your dogs crack cocaine really is?
Of course, if you’d like a little bit of extra help and expert coaching, there is always our three-week intensive training programs.
Find a 3 week intensive
We offer level I and level II Baby Come Back courses to sharpen your skills, and you can ask us for a private course too!
Morag, the big Yin (it’s nearly his one-year gotcha Day) and the collie girls
P. S. Our recall is a bit of a work in progress. Freya is pretty reliable except if she gets too far away and finds a real bunny, but Project Squirrel has been a great success. Laird is pretty amazing unless he is actively on the hunt for something, and deer are our personal nemesis right now. But I promise we are working on it, and I’m using exactly the same techniques that we teach you in our courses!
P.P.S. yes, it has been a while since I emailed and blogged to you all, sorry about that! I've been a bit poorly lately and am still recovering so don't be surprised if it takes me a little longer to reply to emails or messages
What else is going on in WCC Land?
Sat 25th May Gundog Games
Sun 26th May Herding Dog Games