The Happy Recall

Probably one of the most frequent problems people have with
puppies and dogs is that the dog will not come when it’s called.
Here is a fun game to play with your puppy/dog to reinforce the
“come” and in a short time you will have a dog that will happily
run to you when called.
Firstly, it is important that coming to you is ALWAYS a good
experience. NEVER call your puppy/dog to you in a harsh tone or
if you plan to chastise it. You want to set the groundwork that
being close to you is a good thing and that good things happen to
your puppy when he/she is close to you. Being close to you means
treats, security, praise and petting!!!!
When first starting to teach the puppy the recall, it is wise to use
food and praise only until the desired behavior is established and
then you can gradually wean off the food reward and use solely
praise. Two people must participate in this exercise. Person “A”
has the puppy on leash or long line about 20 feet away from the
second person. Person “A” should keep silent at this time. Ensure
the puppy knows that the person who will be calling it (Person
“B”) has treats. The puppy need not be either sitting or in a down
position. The object here is that the puppy is going to want to run
to the person calling it in anticipation of a reward. Person “B”
should be either sitting on the ground or kneeling down, which
creates a non-dominant position. Person “B” calls the puppy
(pup’s name first!) “Fido!! Come!!!” in a happy voice. Person “A”
releases the puppy who runs towards Person “B” As soon as the
puppy makes the first few strides towards Person “B”, that person
should be praising and praising!! Important: Make sure Person “B”
is holding the treat out to the puppy and that the puppy runs right
up to Person “B”. Do not make any attempt to reach out and grab
the puppy’s collar until the puppy has come right into Person “B”.
Once the puppy has run right to Person “B”, that person can then
hold the treat at the puppy’s nose and take hold of the puppy’s
collar and immediately treat and praise! Timing is very important
here. Reach out for the puppy will only encourage the pup to jump
away and result in a game of “catch me if you can!”. When the
puppy has eaten the treat, it is then time to reverse roles and do the
same thing back to Person “A”. Do this 6 – 8 times, enough that
the puppy is consistently happily running to the person calling, but
not enough that the puppy gets too tired out. Having a leash or
long line on the puppy during this exercise will ensure that there is
a certain amount of control of the puppy and should it not respond
to one of the individuals calling it, it is easier to get full control of
the puppy by taking hold of the dragging leash or long line. If your
puppy does not come when called, go and pick up the leash or
long line, show the puppy the treat and repeat “Fido! Come!”,
enticing the puppy back to the place where he/she was first called.
Over a period of two to three weeks of doing this daily, you can
start asking the puppy to sit when it comes running to you.
Gradually introduce a game of hide and seek, using the above
method. Person “A” hides somewhere in the house and then calls
the puppy. This game is lots of fun for both puppy and owners!
Important: NEVER give a command that you are not prepared to reinforce.
ALWAYS make coming to you a pleasant experiencefor the puppy.
Remember that dogs and puppies read our body language.
Smile a lot and keep your voice happy!