Puppy Recall training

Puppy Recall Training: One of the key skills to learn

As  dog trainer I see daily poor examples of a recall in parks, the beach and woodland with older dogs.  Not the dog’s fault, it is just doing what is normal. Had the owner established a good recall in all environments when the dog was a puppy then many of the recall issues I see daily would be reduced. 

This is Maggie, a King Charles Spaniel, who I started working with at about 7 to 8 weeks. By using the techniques I use and the hard work of the owner we had a good recall on the whistle by 12 weeks. Most owners are just starting puppy class sessions by this time!!

The video shows Maggie a little older and out in a high distraction environment, responding well to the whistle and keen to get back. This is Maggie’s default behaviour because she never learned to self reward by ignoring her owner. She puts a lot of older dogs to shame.

I once read something which is very true when approaching puppy training. ‘ In training there are two choices for the dog, the right one and the wrong one.  It is our job to ensure this choice remains a secret’ 

Recall Training for puppies how to achieve this

A key objective for me when training a recall to a puppy is to utilise what the puppy already does well.  A young puppy will want to stay close by you and where you walk they will follow. Of course this all changes around 15 weeks when they start to get confident and start exploring.  However, up to that stage the puppy wants to return to you.  Therefore we need to make this the default behaviour. 

Part of the training will mean the the puppy must be on the lead or a long line and must not be left to entertain itself.  My objective is to make the owner so much fun and rewarding the puppy wants to return regardless.  A puppy left to its own devices soon starts to find interesting things to explore and quickly the owner becomes a second option if nothing more interesting.  

All the dogs I work with regardless of breed are trained to respond to a whistle and this is the best medium to communicate with your dog effectively. There is a link to an article here about the benefits of training with a whistle.

We want to show the puppy that being with us is fun and rewarding and if it comes back when we use the whistle then it gets access to all these nice things.  Sounds easy when written like that!!  The reality is we are teaching a youngster something quite complicated and we speak different languages.