Recall Anywhere…Recall 102
At this point you should have your dog coming to you when called anywhere in the house. Whether you are in the same room as the dog or elsewhere in the house, all you need to do is call and the dog should come running to find you and get their reward. If this is not happening, you need to review the posts on the “non-negotiable rules” and “games to play”, because apparently the dog is not yet having fun. Remember, the dog has to look at this as a game! And as I have said from day one, if the dog is not having fun, they are not learning. So before we move on to distractions and being able to recall anywhere, we must be at a level of recall that works well inside the house.
Our next step is to move the game playing into the back yard. It is more distracting than the house, and gives us a chance to introduce another working environment! At this point, it is important to realize that dogs do not generalize very well, and there is a distinct possibility that he/she will act like they have no idea what ping pong or hide and seek are in the back yard! Take it slow and start with the basics (AGAIN!) The good news is they should pick up faster the second time around. A word of warning, DON’T GET COCKY! Just because your dog is showing great prowess at recall in the house and the backyard, don’t be fooled into thinking it will work anywhere! If you do, you will be cussing me because you went too fast too soon, especially since there are still two steps left!
We now move to the front yard, and let’s face it; this is where most of the recall whoops-es happen. We have all been there, chasing a dog up and down the block with most of your neighbors standing on the front porch laughing hysterically while you scream, cuss and plead with your dog to just sit and stay for goodness sake. Sound familiar? Why is the front yard so hard? Well, because it is not a working environment and it is way more distracting than either the back yard or the inside of the house. Think about it…how often is your dog off leash or loose in the front yard? All he/she wants to do is check out this new world, and it usually happens when the dog darts through the front door, or manages to get past you, out the car door, after a wonderfully enjoyable ride in the car. I do not for one moment recommend that you work with your dog off leash in the front yard, but rather I encourage you to work with your dog on a long line.
I would suggest you work with a 15-20 foot line. (Cotton will not tear up your hands, but boy nylon will!). You are going to simply allow the dog to investigate and experience the area till the line is taught, then call the dog back to your side, and reward. Practice this at least 10-15 minutes every day. It would be best if you can do the exercise twice a day for the 10-15 minutes. You are not only working on dealing with the distractions of the front yard, but are also creating an environment in which your dog is used to working. This way, when Fido does get loose in the front yard, he will be as likely to come running to you for the reward as he is when inside or in the back yard!
Final exam time! TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE DOG PARK. Use the long line and practice in the most distracting area known to dogs…except for a city park with 9 soccer practices going on (this is another great place to practice!) Make sure to keep the same routine. Practice the first 10 to 15 minutes you are at the park, and don’t forget to reward BIG TIME! You have to be at least as important or interesting as the 30 other dogs running around. As time goes by, you will find that you have a dog that has learned that staying close and continually checking in is a good thing and fun to boot. You will also have a dog that will be the envy of every other doggie mommy and daddy at the park. Now beaming with pride you exclaim my dog knows recall, but what happens when the distraction goes beyond other dogs? Let’s say a deer running through the park, a cat running out in front of you, or the squirrel that bolts straight out in front of you and into a busy street? Stay tuned…we tackle that next with: Emergency Whistle… Recall 103.
Sometimes more is not always better… And sometimes we are not as smart as we think!
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