Join Date: Jun 2009
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Sprorchid's post was great. I'd like to add that many people "poison" the word, "come" by using it in all the wrong ways Sprorchid mentioned. For many people, it makes sense to choose a new recall word (or use a whistle, as in Dave's "Calling all Havs" thread) and make sure you NEVER use it wrong. It doesn't matter what the word is, as long as you are consistent.
I actually have two different recall words, one for formal obedience situations, "Kodi, Front!", and "Kodi, Here!" for informal situations when I want him to come back to me, but it doesn't require a formal "front and finish". We started the recall in a hallway, having my kids just take turns calling Kodi's name, having him dash up and down the hall, getting a treat each time he responded to his name. Then we started just watching him. When we saw he was making an enthusiastic bee-line for us, we would say "Kodi, here!!!' in a bright, happy voice and give him great treats and TONS of praise when he arrived and let us grab his collar. (he was coming anyway, on his own, so this was a great game as far as he was concerned) Then we would let him go again. That's part of the trick to teaching a really reliable recall... NEVER say your recall word unless you are AT LEAST 90% sure the dog will come. When you are first practicing, don't say it until they are already on their way.
Kodi was a bit of a velcro dog to start with outdoors, so we didn't have to worry about him running off. But for people who's pup might find the great outdoors more tempting than playing the recall game (even for great food) you can use a "long line", which is just a long, thin, strong ribbon or string attached to the collar that you can step on to keep the puppy from getting away. You can do the same thing if he is loose in the yard and won't let you catch him, but you will need to supervise him closely so he can't get caught on anything and get hurt.
When we started off-leash walks in the woods, I would (and still do!) call him back to me periodically, give him a cookie and release him again. He loves this game. From that we were able to take it a step further, and at this point, if he's getting too far ahead of me, I can just call, "Kodi, wait!", and he knows he doesn't need to come back to me, but he needs to wait until I close the distance and say, "OK!". I wish I could tell you how he learned this part, but I'm not sure. It's just a communication we sort of developed over time.
I was told, however, that you can't expect a dog to have a really solid recall, with distractions, for AT LEAST a year or two. If you have a distractible, or high prey drive type dog, it can take much, much longer. Sight hounds almost never are trustworthy off leash in the open. So don't get discouraged with your guy... if I remember correctly, he's still pretty young, isn't he?
Karen, Kodi, Pixel and Panda
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