Sunday, March 6, 2011

Recalls Part 2: Exercises we use in class

This is the list of the activities we use in class and the typical order. Sometimes the order changes based off of previous training history or how the dog is responding.

Collar Holds: We want this to be very good before we put it with any of the other recall games. We want to practice so much that our dog gets wiggly and happy when we reach for his collar.
  • Reach out with a flat hand, to the side of your dog's head. Touch your hand to his collar. Then feed a treat. Repeat multiple times.
  • When dog is doing well and never moving away, gradually increase intensity.
  • Increase the distance handler moves to the dog.
  • Practice reaching over the top of the head to the collar (we want to always go from the side in real life...but other people who don't know better might try to reach over the top).
  • Get people your dog knows to practice this too.
Call and Run: Speed of handler and how far the handler goes, depends on what makes the dog happy, dog speed, and space available. Food/toy should NEVER be presented in training until the moment you are ready to reinforce.
  • Have a helper hold your dog, or drop a few treats on the ground to distract him as you leave. Talk to your dog in a way that will attract him. When your dog is on his way to you, run away, then stop and scatter a few treats at your side.
  • Dogs that like to play can have playtime when the dog arrives.
  • Repeat many times, varying how soon/late you run and the distance the handler runs.
Call and Turn: This can be combined with the above, based on handler skill level. The coordinated handler can have treats in the left hand if you will have your dog come to your left. If you want your dog to come to your right, have your reinforcers ready in your right hand. If you are not coordinated, have treats in both hands, just in case you misjudge.
  • Have a helper hold your dog, or scatter treats to distract him while you walk away.
  • Call your dog (and possibly run). When your dog arrives, turn away from him a quarter of a turn, then scatter treats at your side. If your dog is coming to your left, you will rotate right. If your dog is coming to your right side, you will rotate left.
  • Gradually increase the amount of your turn.
  • Sometimes, instead of scattering treats, you can toss a big treat ahead at the "moment of reinforcement"
Loose your dog: This game requires some practice of the previous exercise.
  • Call your dog, when he is about to reach you, dart away. Feed as soon as he catches up.
  • Vary where you are turning.
  • Always scatter treats at your side, or toss ahead of you at the "moment of reinforcement"
  • When your dog has had many repetitions with one dart away, you can have two changes of direction before reinforcing.
  • The more practice the dog tries, the harder you can work to loose your dog. At the same time, always plan it so that your dog will most likely succeed.
And with all of this, we need to remember to use good recall training.

It's interesting that the above exercises are very effective for getting the owners to be good about recalls. Scattering provides more reinforcement than feeding one piece. Turning away not only provides motion to encourage dogs to come, but it gets the dog next to the owner so that the owner is not leaning over the dog. Running gets people to be silly and exciting.

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

I am always looking for ways to work on recalls. Basically, I feel like you can't over train that one! I like your dart away two times in succession. I hadn't thought of that.
Thanks for your posts. They are great!