If your dog slips from his collar or sees a fight breaks out at the dog park, will he respond to your “come” cue? When your dog is in harm’s way, a solid recall can save him from danger. These are some of the most frequent errors that handlers make when teaching their dogs to come when called. Do you make any of them?
Mistake 1: “Come” means “the fun is over”
One of the biggest mistakes is to cue “come,” and when your dog runs to you, he is confronted with a negative consequence. For example, if you only call him when it’s time to leave the dog park, it’s no wonder he doesn’t like the word “come.” Imagine if your friend called you over and, when you arrived, she promptly threw a pie in your face. Wouldn’t you think twice the next time she asks you to come close to her? The fact is that, particularly with recall, your dog can choose whether to comply with your cue or to blow you off. Make sure he wants to choose you.
The solution: When you practice recall (which should be often!), make sure there is a positive consequence to coming. When Fido comes to you, start a game of fetch. Or reward with a treat. Or provide any other positive result. When it’s time to leave the dog park, reward Fido for coming with a piece of cheese, and then clip on the leash to leave.
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My newest video focuses on one of the most important training behaviors: recall! BKLN Manners uses a hand target for recall, as many dogs seem to find "touch" a lot more fun than "come." (To see the steps of a basic hand target, watch my video here.) And if your dog thinks it's fun, he'll respond much more easily.
This video features the perfect pittie duo Penelope and LooseSeal (Check them out here on Instagram!) Recently LooseSeal slipped out the front door and gave her family a scare as she played the "can't catch me" game. The recall techniques we used in this training session are meant to prevent a future incident.
As with all training, the key is to increase the difficulty methodically, raising only one criterion at a time. As you'll see in the video, we are increasing either distance between dog and handler or distraction level, such as toys in the vicinity. Both Penny and Loosey nailed their recalls during our session, meaning they can soon start to practice on long lines in areas that offer slightly greater distance and more distractions, like a quiet corner of a park.
As if the release of the BKLN Manners™ book wasn't enough excitement for one week, we just got word that a segment Sarah Westcott and I did for a Japanese TV series has aired. (It's almost entirely in English.) Watch it here!
The segment, which begins at the four-minute mark, gives you a glimpse of how to teach polite leash walking, not jumping on people, recall, a trick, and agility. In addition to Sarah's dogs Hank and Fever and my dog Batman, our wonderful client Margaret and her dog Grace volunteered to take part in the filming. Grace picked up hand targeting and jumping through a hoop with lightning speed.
On a personal note, Japan is a country close to my heart, where I have both family and friends. But dog training there isn't as robust as it is in the States, at least not yet. (However, excellent trainers like Miki Saito are changing that!) Therefore, I couldn't be happier to share what we do at Brooklyn Dog Training Center to a Japanese audience!
Treat & Train, developed by Dr. Sophia Yin and owned by PetSafe, is a multi-purpose training tool that is most frequently used to help with problem behaviors such as barking and jumping when people enter your home. It can also provide a ton of rainy-day indoor fun for your dog by making him work for his food, burning both physical and mental energy in a small space. (See the video below.) The device includes a food-dispensing container with several options for dispensing treats, a remote control so you can activate the machine from far away, and a target stick. Sound strange? It’s actually brilliant. Here are some ways you can incorporate it into your routine. (Click "Read more" below.)
If it takes your dog an hour to walk around the block, a simple training technique can help get his motor running.
At Doggie Academy, owners sometimes contact us because their dogs refuse to walk on leash. It’s most common with puppies, though occasionally it happens with older dogs, including new rescues who are unaccustomed to walking on a sidewalk. In many of these cases, particularly with puppies, the dog is on sensory overload. He’s taking in so much information that he can’t focus on the actual walking. In other cases, the dog might be overwhelmed or anxious in an urban environment, making him unwilling to venture further from home. Or, perhaps, the dog is just perfectly comfortable sitting there on the sidewalk, taking in a sunbeam or watching people pass by.
The One Cue You Can’t Live Without
Allow me to introduce my all-time favorite training behavior: the subtle but mighty Hand Target! While one of the lesser-used techniques among owners, Hand Targeting has so many practical applications that it is well worth teaching it to your dog. Rather than explain it in writing, watch this video to see Hand Targeting in action.
Hand Targeting teaches your dog to touch his nose to your outstretched hand. “Why on earth would I want to do such a thing,” you ask? Once your dog can come to you and “boop” your hand, the possibilities for polite indoor and outdoor behavior are endless. For instance:
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified dog trainer, certified Fear Free professional, certified dog parkour instructor, and award-winning author.
The views expressed on this website belong to Kate Naito and may not reflect the views of the agencies with which she trains.