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Teaching 'Recall'

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By Sue Williams Bsc, GODT(MT), MCFBA, Chairwoman Guild of Dog Trainers 19 September 2015

Is it our responsibility as a dog owner to ensure we teach our dog basic control exercises. Puppy training is all about teaching and developing strong foundations in good behaviour and manners. Although pups are capable of learning and absorbing information it is essential that you recognise they have a very short attention span so your training sessions should reflect this. I like to think of channelling a puppy in the right direction rather than formal training.

One of the most common training problems people have with their dogs is the recall. Fundamental to a good recall is your relationship with your dog. It’s simple if you are interesting and fun your puppy will want to be with you! If you get this right teaching the recall becomes a lot easier.

A big mistake people make is to simply let the puppy have off lead freedom without first teaching the recall. When pups are young they naturally gravitate towards us and want to stick around due to everything being new and their instinct to stay close, but this is short lived and soon they become confident and do not need the security we offer, this is when it starts to go wrong.

In this weeks video I demonstrate how I am teaching Kali the recall. Recall training takes time and it can take months of training before your dog has a 100% recall, whereby she will return immediately from any distraction- so be consistent and patient!

Kali is now fully vaccinated so is able to walk on the ground in public places, something im glad about as she’s getting big and it feels like she is a ton weight when im carrying her around. Even though I have carried her around socialising and habituating her in many places, I have started walking her in relatively quiet locations to start with. Once on the ground everything looks very different to a puppy and the last thing I want to do is overwhelm her. I have monitored her closely and noticed she is a little concerned about large vehicles particularly if they are moving fast or their airbrakes go off. Although its only slight I don’t want to create any negative association. To address this I have been taking her to places where I am able to create distance between us and the traffic. I have used her Kong stuffed with her food, Natural Instinct Puppy food and used this to both occupy her and at the same time form a positive association. I have been able to quite quickly progress to the stage where I can use small amounts of her food as rewards for calm confident behaviour. Key to my quick success on this has been :

  •     The fact I identified her feelings quickly.
  •     I have created a positive association.
  •     As she is conditioned to the word ‘good’ it has enabled me to provide her with feedback and I have accurately positively reinforced her relaxed behaviour.


It is important to remember if your puppy is overwhelmed or concerned about anything don’t force her up to what she is fearful of instead retreat and build up her confidence gradually.

Another first this week is swimming! I love watching dogs play in water they have an absolute ball and I can spend hours entertained sharing their fun. I am really lucky to have my own lake so I thought as it was hot I would take her with Maddie. The first time Kali experienced our lake was when she was 6 weeks old and she came with her breeder Corinne, mum and siblings- if you remember she fell in! Well no arm bands were needed and after watching Maddie and I for a short time she decided to join us. She loved it although she needs to work on her style as her splashing was awesome!

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