Tuesday, 15 October 2019 08:34

Training your dog to come when called

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Training your dog to come when you call them is essential. There are many reasons why people fail to teach this behaviour correctly. I’m going to start by helping you with things YOU might be doing wrong, these things you should correct immediately.
Training your dog to come when you call them is essential. There are many reasons why people fail to teach this behaviour correctly. I’m going to start by helping you with things YOU might be doing wrong, these things you should correct immediately. Never fail to reward your dog for coming to you, even the times when you haven’t called them. Always reward. Don’t keep repeating yourself while your dog is ignoring you (or more likely doesn’t understand you). Don’t allow an untrained dog to repeat the wrong behaviours. In this case, ignoring your calls. Don’t make excuses for why your dog is not coming, if they are not, then you haven’t trained them. So, what should I be doing when training my dog to come? My technique teaches the dog to come to you before you’ve given him a command. Because of this, this technique relies on the dog training lead. The logic behind this is because dogs don’t understand the spoken word, how can we teach them a command until we have a behaviour to pair it to? The technique is similar to back-chaining. Here’s the process and pay attention to my tips as they will trouble shoot why you may be failing to train this behaviour correctly. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail You’ve probably heard this saying. With the recall, preparation is essential. Identifying the most effective rewards and how to maximise their effect is really important. My tip is let your dog choose the reward, you don’t chose it for them. Use high value rewards and novel toys. High-value food treats are things like chicken or cheese/hot dogs pieces and toys that are not used daily but kept for training. Make sure verbal rewards are affective by not giving them out willy nilly. Save verbal rewards only for jobs well done. Get a 10 metre long line, also called a dog training lead and a good secure harness. Never use a long line on a collar or head collar. This is because of the injury your dog might receive from a jolt to the neck. Chose your working area, this must be with no or very low distractions. Give yourself time, this cannot be rushed. Be calm and patient and take your time. You all set? OK let’s go. The technique broken down [sociallocker] Put your secure harness on and attach your dog training lead to it. If you are lucky, work in a secure area, otherwise, make sure your equipment is safe. Make sure your pockets are loaded (or your dog treat bag) and the correct hand is free to dispense food rewards. Alternatively, put your training toy in your pocket. Make sure your dog is hungry and that the toy is novel. Start your walk/session, wander around (with intention). When your dog comes to you of their own free will, this is when you are going to reward them. Ideally, you will ask them to sit, you deliver the reward, then release them (permission to go is important). This is an important phase, you are starting off by your dog just coming to you ‘anyway’. Your dog will repeat coming to you to earn the reward. The duration of this phase could be hours or a couple of weeks. When these returns to you (still with NO command) are starting to become frequent, you can start to think about adding in a command word, here is how I want you to do it. So, the returns to you are becoming reliable, when your dog comes to you and sits, use your command word. Now think about adding this command word in sooner and sooner. So your dog is 5 metres away but you know he will come, add that command in (you are now pairing the command with your dog doing the recall anyway). This phase is still in a no to very low distraction area – remember this. Keep your body language simple and your command the same each time, speaking clearly. As this phase becomes reliable, start to use it with a slight distraction. An example of this might be he is occupied sniffing the ground or looking the other way (not at a dog or wildlife, that’s too much too soon). Now the skill comes in. You want to build up your distractions, however, this is the part where most people fail. Do it gradually, I can’t stress this enough. Also, it’s important to note that when you move to a different location, go back in your training to an easy step. You want to raise the chances that your dog will succeed, set them up for success, not failure. This is basically it. In practice, it is a challenge. But follow these steps and you will succeed. The biggest game-changer when training your dog to come Place spontaneous and willing returns to you and remember to reward these using upbeat verbal rewards, food treats or throwing a toy. – Sarah Gleave The concept behind this is your dog is not born knowing what we want from them. In the absence of training, dogs will do what works for them and carry on with their natural behaviours. Why use a command that hasn’t been taught yet? Rewards Let’s evaluate the reward. What you think is a reward and what your dog finds rewarding might often be two different things and may be the reason why your training is failing. Praise is a reward, this includes facial expressions such as smiling. Toys (suitable ones) are rewards and can be used to help with a recall if your dog brings them back to you. Food, the obvious one. The environment, this is the one that your dog often responds to in the absence of controlled rewards given by you. Attention, even punishment (obviously we won’t be using punishment). Release – when you release your dog from a sit, down, stay to go off and do their thing. Do’s and don’ts Never scold a dog for not coming back. Do not repeatedly call your dog. Don’t use low value treats that your dog does not find rewarding. Never assume a young puppy recall is a fully training recall. Never ignore your dog when he comes to you. Never allow a dog to repeat running off or ignoring you. Never letting your dog off the lead i.e. never training them is irresponsible unless you have a good reason. Don’t chase a dog that is running off. Always teach your dog as soon as you get them home whether they are puppies or adults. Start training in a secure and safe area on a long lead. When you have moved on to off lead recalls, get them to sit and then release them in YOUR time not theirs. Summary Use a 10 metre dog training lead Work in a low/no distraction area Give yourself time and be patient Plan your rewards
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