How Long Does It Take? -- Reliable Recall Training.

Discussion in 'Obedience Training' started by MissyBC, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. MissyBC Experienced Member

    Hi there.

    First of all, Missy is 15 months old. I've worked with her steady since she was 4 months old (not necessarily on "recall" but I've worked with her none the less (recall included!), and she's still not reliable off leash... what she does, even if she's in a fenced area... and thinks she's free is... she will run around like a crazy dog and totally forget about me. She has run off a few times (4 - 6 times?), and if I'm close enough and she's too tired to keep going, I ask her to sit and she does). After that, I clip her leash on and take her home.

    My question is: "How long should it take her to learn to come back when called outside every time?"

    What's the average?

    *My goal is to be able to walk Missy off leash and for her to stay close/come back when called without having to worry that she'll go far, and keep her eyes on me; even if I go out of sight to come find me...*

    I hope this makes sense! ;)

    any tips?

    Thank you to whoever reads and replies.
    MaryK likes this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    (lots of ways to do this,but this is what I did, and my dog has immediate, razor sharp recall, unless chasing bunnies:rolleyes: …sigh, but otherwise, he zooms to me, full speed, instantly, when I say “Buddy, COME!”)

    (is super easy way, is fun, and this DOES work)

    Do not use your dog’s NAME to call him, he hears his name all day long. At my house, we talk about the dog by name all day long.
    make a specific sound or word that means come.
    If you have already used the word “COME!” and your dog is now immune to that word, LOSE that word, START ALL OVER from scratch, and get a brand new, distinct word, "here!" or "now" or "run" whatever word you want,
    or consider a whistle noise.
    Cut up some hotdogs or real bits of meat, into small small pieces, to prevent a full or fat dog. Dogs do NOT care how big a treat is. Do not skimp on this, use real meat. If your dog is immune to treats, let me know, i have great, healthy recipe that ALL dogs go nutters for, even dogs who "don't like" treats.
    Or, one can use a tug toy for reward, if that is high value reward to that particular dog. .
    To begin 1st lesson of recall,
    Stand beside your dog, INSIDE YOUR HOUSE with no distractions around--- make the noise (or whistle noise) and give a treat, and praise dog. (NO, the dog has not done anything yet, you are right.:ROFLMAO: )
    Your goal is to convince that dog, the whistle,
    or the word "come"
    means TREAT ! And love, praise, all his favorite stuff.

    Repeat this about 3 - 5 times,
    now first lesson is done. NOW PLAY WITH YOUR DOG. ALL LESSONS SHOULD BE SUPER SHORT, LIKE A MINUTE, 2 MINUTES…stopping before your dog gets frustrated, or zones out. All lessons should be followed by play session, so dog thinks ‘school’ is fun.
    You should repeat the lesson many many times a day, but keep all lessons short.
    Over time, take a few steps away from dog, and whistle/say "come",
    so dog will take a few steps towards you,
    and give meat treat and praise. Again, repeat x 3to 5 times, play with your dog. Seems too easy, [IMG]but, for real, start from scratch,[IMG] *something* is being built in the dog's mind as you do these steps. You are teaching him a whole brand new word, from scratch.

    Overtime, stand a bit farther, whistle, give love and treat when dog comes. You should still be in low distraction area at this point of training, not like, in a dog park,------ still inside your house.
    Overtime, move to other rooms, use your noise, cue word, or whistle, reward dog when he comes to get that treat. FOR THE REST OF THIS PAGE, I say “whistle” but it can be ANY *distinct* noise you choose, but NOT his name.

    Overtime, when dog is reliably showing up INSIDE the house, to the word “come” or to your whistle, THEN and only then, begin outdoor training.
    Start in your yard, when dog is kinda tired out, standing again next to him, make whistle, give treat. Repeat x 3. Play with your dog. Yes, you could probably step away by now and use cue, but don't.
    Not yet.You are hypnotizing your dog that "come = treat" at this point.
    You can repeat a lesson many times a day, but keep each lesson short.

    Just like you did INSIDE your house, slowly advance along, to where you are a bit further, a bit further, over much time, NOT TOO FAST.
    Set your dog up for success.
    If you start “losing” your student, back up to spot to where dog was last successful.
    When you begin work in areas of high distraction, begin with dog CLOSE to you, whistle, give treat. Slowly, over time, being a lil bit further from dog, whistle, give treat.
    This IS a slow process, but, it is well worth it. There is something permanent being built inside the dog's mind, the cue = the high value treat, do not rush this process. Let him make that association slowly and firmly, without any stress whatsoever.

    For some dogs, it is recommended that for distance work, you have dog on very long 50 to 100 foot lead, or, work inside a large fenced in area, such as an empty school yard or empty cemetery. DO NOT attempt long distance work in high distraction areas until dog has proven he is good in short distances.
    Make the distance thing occur slooowly, moving from say 10 feet, to 12 feet next day, and so on, set your dog up for success. If you do it this way, you will end up with a dog you CAN call to you from as far away as he can still hear you.
    DO NOT SCOLD YOUR DOG even if he shows up late,:mad: he’ll remember that, and think, “I don’t wanna go over there and get yelled at.” NEVER EVER scold a dog who DID eventually show up. It is confusing to the dog.
    POSITIVE ONLY!!! If this is not FUN for you and your dog, you are doing it wrong.
    As you get into further distances, WHEN THE DOG IS VERY ADVANCED and totally understands that Whistle = treats + love!”
    and you are beginning to practice among more distractions, you may have to whistle, clap on your legs,[IMG]be very interesting, to lure your dog from far away.
    TIP: NEVER EVER CALL TO A DOG WHO IS ABOUT TO PEE. Never ever call a dog who is doing his pre-urination sniff. It is a rare dog who will come to you during that, when you gotta go, you gotta go. If you call a dog who is in process of the pre-urination sniff, you will weaken the cue, cuz he most likely will NOT come at that moment. Wait til he finishes and THEN call him. Then you win. You do not want to ever give dog 1 chance to hear that cue and NOT come.[IMG]
    Have lessons every day, every day, and advance slowly.
    ONCE DOG SOLIDLY UNDERSTANDS THE NEW CUE, I mean like steel, then and ONLY THEN begin to reward with “praise only” on a recall. Be very very slow to grdually fade out the treats, giving lavish praise, AFTER the dog thinks the word “come” means “treat”, ha ha.
    I still to this day, years later, still call my dog and still give him meat bits when he show up, not every time, but my dog never knows for sure if this *might* be the time he will get a bit of real meat. We practice recall every day of his life, every single day.

    And we do practice recall almost every day.
    GOOD LUCK!!!!
    Dogster, bekah1001, dogcrazy and 3 others like this.
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    for real, there is no shame whatsoever, in starting alllllllll over again, from scratch, with whole new word, sound or cue....
    Dogster and mewzard like this.
  4. Anneke Honored Member

    Sorry I had to giggle a bit, when I read your question: how long does it take before your recall is reliable:oops::) The first answer that popped in my mind, was... FOREVER!!!
    Not making fun of you, honestly not! I think a recall, a really rock steady, reliable recall is the most difficult thing to teach a dog.
    I got it to an average recall with Jinx. Other dogs are an average distraction, cats, rabbits, deer, sheep and recently cows are a major distraction!!
    She is 20 months old now and I have been recall training since I got her at 7,5 weeks.
    Cooper has a slow motion recall, when there are no distractions. But he will still sniff that tree or brush before coming. Anything will keep him from coming. And he will take off after pretty much the same things as Jinx, plus other dogs.

    I have gone about it like Tigerlily said, but I used a lot of play with Jinx. She just loves to tug, so I used to carry around a tugfloss in addition to treats.
    One thing is most important: BE MORE INTERESTING THAN THE DISTRACTION! And that is the most difficult thing in the world.
    You just woke up from a bad night, you walk your dog in half dark and you have to be happy, playfull.... (I have a bad mood in the early morning:cool:)
  5. MissyBC Experienced Member

    @tigerlily: When I started teaching Missy to "come when called" it was back when she was 4 months old (with treats); I taught her in the house the same way you taught your dog Buddy. It was a ton of fun! When she would hear me call "come!" she would literally bound over to me so fast that she would jump over the arm rest of the couch and practically skid to a stop! I loved it when she did that! I'm going to remind her what it means (even in my backyard where I think I might have gotten her immune to the word "come" to mean "run away". :oops:) Hopefully I can re-teach her what "come" means outside, as that is what I use in training class with her.

    @Anneke: No worries. I know what you mean... I feel like it's been forever! You see, I've had Missy on the long line since at least 8 or 9 months old. (trying to teach her the random recall.) Come the first time every time even when distracted. That's the hardest part. I know she'll get there one day, it just takes lots of time and patience. :)

    P.S. Missy loves to chase squirrels and herd cars :eek:, bikers and joggers... any ideas of how I could go about teaching her not to do that? Any help on this matter as well, would be greatly appreciated! (I do put her in a "sit/look at me" when they go by on occasion, am I doing it right?)
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  6. southerngirl Honored Member

    when a biker, jogger or anything else distracting comes by try playing a game of tug of war or bounce a ball for her to catch anything more interesting than the distraction. Good Luck(y)
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  7. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    For joggers and bikers, etc, you could have a pal assist you. YOu and leashed up Missy, sit in front yard, have pal go by on bike. Have Missy sit, then lie down. Have Missy look atyou, and then try yawning at her.
    Heavily reward her sit/lie down, looking at you, calmly.

    If Missy can't do that, have pal go by while you have Missy face you, with her back facing biker for now. Do same thing, ask a sit, then a lie down, have her look at you, yawn at her, and reward heavily. THEN, overtime, begin to swivel Missy's position slowly, over time, so she does NOT have her back to the biker.
    More her side to the biker.

    eventually, overtime, you hope to have Missy sitting calmly, observing the bikers go by, while lying down in your yard, giving her back massages, treats, much praise, for calmly watching the bikers go by.

    This might take time. Dogs can and DO generalize objects pretty well. If you can get Missy to realize, you do want her calm when she sees ONE bike, is good chance, with practice, Missy can generalize that to ALL bikes.

    then, you can work on joggers, or whatever else she gets overly excited about. You could do this concurrently, actually. Like, at 2 pm, have a biker go back and forth while you work on helping Missy stay calm. and at 3pm, have some joggers go by.

    then, once MIssy solidly understands, she IS to stay calm about bikers, joggers, etc, you can then mover her closer to the street as bikers go by.

    then, after she can handle that well,
    then walk Missy along your yard as bikers go by. Or at a park.
    i really think you can do this. i really do.
    MissyBC likes this.
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Re; the yard thing, and i'd truly start all over in the yard. I really would.
    I'd start standing next to Missy, give the word you want her to come to,
    and treat,
    and slowly,
    over time,
    moving away from Missy only a few steps a day.

    for real, i'd start in the house, all over again, yes i would. even a few days of in-house training, then begin all over again out in yard. I think it'd be easier to use entirely different word, start allllll over from scratch, if Missy knows she is free to pick and choose which times she obeys "come" and which times she decides to ignore the word "come". Any word, but "come" if she ignores that word already. It'd be easier to build brand new cue,
    than to correct bad habit of ignoring the word "come".

    for real, this works. don't try to 'test' her recall until you have re-taught it all over again. and only test a few feet at a time,
    a few steps at a time.

    NOt even across the yard.

    Stay close to dog, only ask a step or two, reward heavily, and slowly slowly over time, slowly increase the number of steps. TREAT and praise each return, let Missy think "here!" is the best thing in the world, help her associate that word, "here" with being most awesome moment of her day.

    set her up for success. YOU CAN DO THIS, MISSYBC!!
    MissyBC likes this.
  9. MissyBC Experienced Member

    Thanks for all the encouragement tigerlily! :) I totally can't wait to re-teach her the random recall, in my backyard (no fence... might be a problem?), but I'm totally up for trying again.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  10. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    YOU CAN DO THIS!! My dog was >1 year old, didn't know a single word at all, wasn't even potty trained! He learned it, solidly, but i stayed close to him, slowly hypnotizing him that "come" is BEST moment of his whole day. Buddy has most awesome recall, from 100s of feet away, but he learned it one step at a time, slowly. It did take months teaching this way, but, he's solid and razor sharp (unless a bunny goes by).

    I never asked him to come from across the yard for a long time, i was next to him.......i was teaching him a new word, asking nothing much yet...
    ...................slowly, slowly, adding yet another step each day, so he felt like real winner for coming over, he made awesome associations in his mind to that word "come".

    i didn't even try for distance, or distractions, til he had his own yard nailed solidly. and nope, if you dog won't reliabley come when called, i wouldn't risk having him off leash with no fence, not yet. Good way to lose your dog.

    for real, start standing right NEXT to him in fenced outdoor yard, slowly slowly adding only mere steps each day.
    don't go from solid indoor recall--------> to an unfenced area, all in one fell swoop, that is not what i'm saying worked for buddy. nope. Like i said, once i brought Buddy outdoors to begin recall outdoors, i started all over from scratch, with him right next to me, same as i did inside the house.

    Think of a 5 foot recall, as a whole other trick, than his previous 3 foot recall,
    then go for a 6 foot recall, SLOWLY addding a few extra steps at a time.

    i know you will nail this. I know you can!!:D just go slowly, starting RIGHT BESIDE THE DOG, and adding only a few extra steps at a time, you will see!! you will see!!
  11. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    and don't fade the treats til dog has solidly learned the cue. I gave treats for eons, til he would run to me from 100s of feet away, til he would run to me amongst distractions, etc etc.

    You can also click/treat for his arrival, if he runs directly to you on first call. I didn't use a clicker for this, but, it could be done.
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    you know how some dogs know the word "cheese" or "treat"?? See, Buddy really thought i was yelling "cheese?" to him!!

    so far as he knew, "come" meant nice treats,
    he thought "come" WAS the word for "treats"!!
    rofl!! :ROFLMAO:
    southerngirl likes this.
  13. mewzard Experienced Member

    See i worry about using the "great game" for distraction - we were told to do this by an excellent dog trainer when Oka saw a dog in the street as she would get so excited and pull....but within about 3 days she knew that, i got the tug out when a dog came..... so I'd spot a dog - get the toy out - and she was like "OMG wheres the dog wheres the dog where the dog!?!?!?" ... it still back fires now after not doing it for months, i'll get the tug out as reward, she'll tug for 20 seconds? and then stop look around, then tug again, look....:rolleyes: I dunno, maybe it's just my dog but sometimes i see these methods (which are great methods) and wonder why its my dog that sees straight though them!
    I get Oka's recall with no distractions really good, then she starts ignoring the cue, no matter what the reward. I notice that she will look and check where i am, if she can see me then she doesn't bother coming back... It's sooo frustrating, i really want to give her that freedom BUT she is sooo untrustworthy around any distractions she doesn't go off lead at all.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  14. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Mewzard, i so so understand about your dog making the association of seeing his tug-toy, and wondering "Where's the dog? What'd i miss, where is it?"
    cuz my dog did exact same thing with "Look at Me".:ROFLMAO:
    exact same thing, i'd ask him to "look at me", and he'd instantly start scanning:cautious: the area for a dog, not looking at me at all, but instead, Buddy went on alert to spot the monster....
    i was able to fix this. I started asking "look at me" all the time, for no reason. all the time, every walk,
    several times a walk,
    and giving lavish praise for any looking at me.

    It took a while, but, now, Buddy has given up his belief that all "look at me" cues = a dog is nearby.

    can be fixed.
    takes a while, but, it can be fixed.
  15. Anneke Honored Member

    Ugh I know what you mean!!! In my case the cue to come, is a sign for Cooper to start scanning for that dog!!
    Every time I say come(only outside of course;)) he will look around and then come. Making a face, saying(seems to me anyway...) why come, there is no dog???
    I have been trying the same thing as Tigerlily. Just call him for no reason. Give a treat or just a pet, or cuddle, put him on leash... But... nope he still scans around:rolleyes:
    So I try not to use this cue anymore. I just walk up to him to put him on leash. He is never that far away from me, so this does work. I am still thinking about another cue, but Jinx responds reall well to this cue, so I would have to change it for her too.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  16. johnny1609 Active Member

    is this the same principle as using the clicker when giving treats, i.e loading so dogs know that noise is a treat?
    p.s had to delete last paragraph to get post
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  17. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    The very very first steps, where dog is getting treats for hearing the word "come" but the dog isn't yet doing anything, very well may be similar to loading a clicker, come to think of it.....I GUESS I WAS LOADING A "CUE" INSTEAD!!:ROFLMAO:

    At any rate, this method worked marvelously for my dog. Also, we practice recall almost every day of his life, to keep it sharp. I didn't like, teach recall, and then never tend to it again, we do this almost daily. My dog thinks recall is BIG fun, and always always looks like he is laughing when he runs to me at full speed.

    But following those plainly worded, step by step directions above,
    did give my dog razor sharp, almost entirely 100% recall, (only exception...bunnies..:rolleyes: )

    I can recall my dog from far far away, distractions, everything. I'm not entirely certain if the extremely slow beginner steps are necessary for all dogs, but it totally worked for my dog, and i felt like "something" was being solidly planted in his lil doggie brain as i did those seemingly silly sounding first steps..
    either way, I sure don't see any harm in doing the very first beginner steps at all, whether or not every dog needs it, it worked.
    Ripleygirl likes this.
  18. johnny1609 Active Member

    the adult lurchers i own will recall as soon as the lamps goes off or a short sharp 'yere' in the daytime
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  19. 648117 Honored Member

    Hi, I have a question about the recall.

    Holly started out with a very good recall but she is not as good at it now, especially when family members other than me call her. I think other members of my family have tainted the cue by calling her when there is no chance she will come (and my sister used to call Holly if someone sitting near her called her and she didn't come until I explained that when she does that Holly has to ignore one of the people that are calling her, that has now stopped).

    So she hasn't been let off the leash yet outside our property (other then when I take her to obedience class where she always comes when I call her). So even if she wont always come at home do you think I should try to train her the recall outside the property using the same word as gets used (and abused) at home using the method you described, or should I just start again with a new cue (which will likely get tainted also by other family members)? Holly is only (nearly) 6 months old so maybe it isn't too late to stengthen "come" as her cue?

    I know it isn't the best, but do you think she will continue to come when I call her and ignore everyone else when they call her?
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  20. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Wow, what an interesting situation, i can totally see what you mean.
    Humans ARE harder to train than dogs, aren't they?

    I'm not sure, but, i kind of like your idea of using a new cue word for "outside the property" recall, and never let the family know that word. (if possible). Or a whistle, or some odd word that you made up from scratch, so the other family members can't even remember it.
    worth a shot, maybe...?

    Or, continue working with your family members, so they, too, can recall your dog..since it does sound like maybe your family IS trainable, you have made some progress there. (kudos, btw)

    but stand by for other ideas.

    Also, some dogs :rolleyes: need recall practice regularly. Mine does.:rolleyes: After i had solidly taught him(as an adult) a good solid recall,
    even from distance, even amongst distractions, well, i quit teaching him that cue, and didn't work on it too often, as he "knew it" already. <---mistake,..... for my particular dog.

    well, turns out, without much practice, my dog's recall got a bit sloppy.:unsure: I was stunned,:eek: as i'd been so so careful in teaching it, and never abused it, never called to him when he was about to pee, etc, ----------yet, my dog was not always coming to me right away.:( Maybe my other family members were also messing up Buddy's cue, too.

    so, i just backed up a bit, gave Buddy some more lessons on it, brushed him up on it a bit,
    and began to practice it daily. His recall became razor-sharp again.
    Now i am half-afraid to stop practicing it, maybe i can by now, but, i still practice his recall almost every day of his life, besides, my dog loves that "game", and comes zooming full speed with a big smile on his face. I still reward him with treats every now and then, still. And i still praise him for showing up. (my dog is fairly vain,:ROFLMAO: and never tires of hearing of how great he is, never tires of praise)

    btw, don't worry, a dog of any age can learn most anything. My dog was at least 1 or 2 years old, before he'd ever ever heard of recall...didn't know any words at all.
    Ripleygirl, MissyBC and Dogster like this.

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