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Recall: what to do if she doesn't come back?

February 1st, 2008, 06:48 PM
So I've been taking Tango and Schroder to the parks near my house and I let Tango off leash whenever we go. Schroder stays on leash all the time because he doesn't hear me if I call him and always has his nose glued to the ground and so can't look at me.

Tango's recall is, I'd say, 95% on. She comes back pretty much all the time if you call her, or if I call "wait" she'll stop and wait for us to catch up. What about the other 5% ? She never does anything she shouldn't be, but she often LOOKS like she's going to, so I call her as a preventative measure.

Repeating the "come" command seems counter-effectual. I'd been thinking a good solution to her not coming back would be putting her back on-leash for a bit since she's not happy about being leashed, but in order to get her back on leash I have to call her, so now the effect of me calling her is that she's back on leash, and I have a negative association :confused:

No dog is every going to have 100% recall, and I know that. Is there something I can/should do if she doesn't come back, though? Something to say, "Coming back is best"?

February 1st, 2008, 07:19 PM
Well according to one of my doggie books, it says to physically take the dog to the location where you originally said "come." How that works I dunno. :shrug:

Am working on this as well. The pup is getting the right idea, but Belle isn't always compliant.

I can only say that maybe this other "trick" will work... well at least when the weather is nicer and there isn't as much snow around.

Have family/friends that know the dog well, go hide behind a tree or bush and have some really tasty rare treats ready. Take turns calling the dog and when it gets to each person, he/she will give the very special treat after praising for the come command.

Got that from one of the books also. :laughing: Haven't had decent enough weather and not willing to hike in 5 feet of snow to try it yet.

February 1st, 2008, 07:22 PM
You're right about giving the come command and leashing her right away. If you do it often enough, it could certainly create a negative association. We kinda started backwards with Penny. Everytime we called her she was always rewarded and then released again. Every now and then we would put the leash on her but reward her at the same time. When we started training using a 40 foot leash, it was pretty easy, her recall was 100%.

When we went to obedience classes, our trainer recommended starting with a 20' leash. Sit and down/stays were taught first. Then the "come" command. If the dog came immediately and sat in front of the owner, there was an instant reward. If the dog didn't, then he/she was pulled in gently with the leash (no reward in this case). After several weeks, I'd say about 90% of the dogs and their owners had it down. Once on-leash was perfect, then the same exercises began again but off-leash. Always with the dog in a sit or down/stay. Once that was perfected, it progressed while the dogs were pre-occupied or at play. It was amazing to see them all return to their owners.

The absolute most important thing, although it can be difficult for some, is to never sound upset when you're calling your dog. It always has to end on a positive note.

February 1st, 2008, 07:26 PM
Have family/friends that know the dog well, go hide behind a tree or bush and have some really tasty rare treats ready. Take turns calling the dog and when it gets to each person, he/she will give the very special treat after praising for the come command.

:thumbs up That's one of the most fail-proof techniques for teaching puppies and dogs their names and the foundation for teaching them the "come" command.

February 1st, 2008, 07:31 PM
maybe train an emergency word and/or signal? I'm a big fan of hand signals. If my arm goes up over my head, my dog DOWNS right where he is. it can be very beneficial if the dog is a ways away from you and you need to get to the dog without him/her bolting.

my dog is a bolter though, so he's hardly EVER off leash, unless in a secure, fenced, and supervised area.

Instead of a regular leash, try a 20 or 30 ft lead. this will give the dog freedom, but you will still have the security incase the recall fails.

if the dog doesn't come back, I would try to get the dog to remain still where she is. so you can calmly walk up and clip the lead.

or you could run like a crazy woman in the opposite direction and the dog will usually run after you... lol...

Personally I think recall is one of the commands that needs to be, and should be, reinforced constantly. I practice every chance I get, but like I said, I simply don't trust my dog off leash, so we practice in safe zones like the house or fenced yard. :rolleyes:

February 1st, 2008, 07:52 PM
All very good suggestions, thanks for the tips! She's 100% perfect in the house, and whenever she's on a lead she's perfect, and whenever she does come I make sure she gets fabulous rewards (praise, treats, play time, a good belly-rub, etc) and outside she's ALMOST perfect. Just whenever she decides to be "almost" is when I'm getting nervous (oh, drat- watch she's not coming back at those very necessary times BECAUSE I'm nervous. Phooey.)

I like the suggestion of an emergency word. We'll start working on that one, I think. I don't need her to come back to me all the time, sometimes I just need her to Not Move (that sentence feels wrong, hopefully you know what I mean).

February 2nd, 2008, 11:42 AM
I read a thread on this in another forum a while back, in which the poster said she taught an entirely separate command, the "emergency recall", and she explains it in detail:

February 3rd, 2008, 12:37 PM
i find running in the opposite direction really helpful if you need to get your dog to comes towards you, but enzo has a problem of seeing another dog and even i run and fall to the ground waving my arms screaming like a crazy lady he wont come, so i keep a 25 ft leash attached to him, i mean i know enzos recall is pretty bad about 50% of the time he will come while loose (with his long leash) so i can use the long leash as a reiteration (sp?) of the come command and i draw him towards me, and i praise him,but not as mush as if he came to me on his own, i want him to know that him coming to me is what i wanted but he gets a better reward if he comes on his own, so i would definitely suggest a long line, and use that for a while, to reiterate that you want her to come all the time.

February 5th, 2008, 12:18 PM
I second the hiding and the running in the opposite direction. With my puppy we are walking off leash in wooded areas and the minute he stops paying attention or gets too far in front I deke behind a tree and hide. He is young enough to be quite concerned if he finds he is alone and has rapidly learned to keep an eye on my whereabouts. Sometimes I call him, sometimes I don't. When I call I ask for a formal COME or just yell out TOO FAR. With TOO FAR I do not expect a formal come, just for him to stay in range. A treat is always offered for a formal COME and other times I try to alternate. Sometimes he just trots back to me on his own and then may get a treat or not.

EVen though I carry the cut up chicken weiners in a plastic bag all my mittens and pockets smell like weiners. When we meet another dog it is rapidly glued to my left side. :)

February 6th, 2008, 11:32 AM
I have noticed that Tango is careful to keep me and her brother in sight, and if we go behind a snow bank (such HUGE snow banks!) she comes looking for us. My real worry is the "too far." Usually- not always- if I say anything to her at all she'll come back. How did you train the "too far" command, or the "wait" command? As long as she's in a safe range I'm happy. Well. That and if she comes back when I need her to. Ha.

February 6th, 2008, 12:02 PM
All of the above suggestions are great. We have been involved in obedience for too many years to think about., The best trick is a delicious treat. They have to think that coming to you is better than whatever they are doing. Hence, when they are put back on the leash after coming back to you, they are not getting a reward instead a form of punishment, because they have lost their freedom. While training them to come, give them a treat and then let them go and do whatever they were doing before. Alternate, between stopping them from doing what they want and letting them go back. That way, they never know when they come to you if they are going to get the treat or not.

The hide and seek game is good also, they can't see you and then they come looking for you. They want to know where their pack is at all times. You are part of that pack. Hopefully, the Alpha. :laughing::laughing: