Let’s Wait and Recall

If you have mastered the “Wait” with a little bit of distance, you can now play of “Wait and Recall” game.

You puppy should now understand “Wait” and also “Heel” for your emergency recalls.

  1. Ask your puppy to wait.
  2. Move away.
  3. Release your puppy with your release command.
  4. Recall your puppy.

When starting to play this game with your puppy I recommend that you to still play a lot of the “Wait” game on its own without the recall, i.e. go back to your puppy, reward, release. If you do not you may very quickly find that you will lose the wait as your puppy will anticipate the recall.

You are now chaining “Wait” and “Heel”.

Safe emergency recalls with toys

Some puppies and dogs get over excited when you recall them with a tuggy. They lunge at the offered toy, grab it, and consequently end up swinging in the air. This is quite common in high drive dogs such a Border Collies or Malinois.

This is something I do not consider as safe behaviour either for you or for you puppy.

The trick to avoid this swing is to let the toy go as soon as you puppy grabs it. If you have a puppy that is enthusiastic for tugging it probably means that your puppy wants to tug with you anyway so your puppy will turn back to you to play with you. If this is not the case, you might want a longer rope at the end of the tuggy so that when you let the tuggy go you can grab the end of the rope on the floor, preventing your puppy from running away with the toy

How to teach your puppy NOT to recall when called

The common mistakes that are guaranteed to teach you puppy to ignore their recall command are:

  1. Use a recall word without teaching your puppy first to associate the word with the behaviour.
  2. Use a word to recall your puppy that your puppy has already associated with another behaviour (like ignoring you!).
  3. Teach your puppy to ignore you by calling your puppy 20 times before your puppy acknowledges you.
  4. Recall your puppy in an area where there are so many other interesting and fun things to do, for example other puppies, or something to chase, that your puppy will not even acknowledge you.
  5. By never rewarding your puppy with treats or play when your puppy comes to you.
  6. Being boring.
  7. Being frustrated and/or shouting at your puppy because your puppy is not coming back to you.
  8. Putting the lead on your puppy and stopping the fun as soon as your puppy comes back to you.
  9. Playing games where you chase your puppy rather than teaching your puppy to chase you.

Emergency Recalls

We are now going to cover the steps to teach an efficient emergency recall to your puppy.

Start the game in your garden. Make sure you have a long lead so that if your puppy is getting distracted you will have a means to get control over it. All that is required is to place a foot on the lead if your puppy tries to run too far away from you.

Set yourself up so that every recall you try should be a success. A one-meter successful recall is much more valuable to condition your puppy in the long term to come back to you than attempting a 30-metre recall where you puppy runs away and/or must be called lots of times before acknowledging you.

A successful recall means that your puppy answers to your recall straight away and attempts to make physical contact with you at the end of the recall. Use one of the proximity games you have learnt such as “Say Hello”, “Grab my collar” or a game of tug when your puppy returns. Finally, your puppy should not be running away from you after the recall, which is a quite common behaviour.

The steps for “Restrained Recall” are:

  • Using a long lead, start to recall in a no arousal environment, in your garden for example.
  • Decide on a word that you are only going to use for an incredibly fun recall. I teach people to use “Heel” which will mean “come back to me on my left side”. The word you choose should be called with as high a pitch and exciting voice as possible. We want to condition your puppy to turn back quickly to you when your puppy hears that specific sound.
  • Ask someone that your puppy knows well to hold your puppy by its shoulders or its harness if your puppy is wearing one, or the long lead.
  • If your puppy is on a long lead, make sure the long lead is trailed on the floor behind it to avoid the lead getting entangled around your puppy or the person who is restraining it.
  • Set your puppy up for success. Make sure your puppy has a desire to come to you before releasing it. Desire is key to the success of this method. Tease your puppy with its tuggy, some food, its push bowl, or anything else it is really stimulated by.
  • Start running! Your puppy must see you running away. Importantly while you are running:
    • Show the tuggy or the treats from your left hand.
    • Turn your head to your left side so that you can watch your puppy from over your left shoulder as it runs towards you.
    • Showing the toy or food from your left hand and turning your head to the left will entice your puppy towards your left side.
  • Call your puppy with your “Heel” command (HeeL is on your Left Leg) whilst running.
  • Make the command and your actions exciting and have your helper immediately release your puppy
  • To start with you only need to be running a couple of metres away from your puppy. The game needs to be easy, so the puppy does not give up.
  • When your puppy reaches you, the reward should be immediate and fun; make that reward a special event! In a normal environment you will be competing against so many arousing stimuli and you need your puppy to think that you are more fun than any of these.
  • When rewarding, try to make physical contact with your puppy to build confidence and optimism so your puppy learns that moving your hand toward your puppy does not mean the end of the game.
  • Grab your puppy’s collar so your puppy cannot escape, but if possible, keep playing.

Do not forget:

  • To grab the collar of your puppy and keep on playing. Your puppy should not be able to run away at the end of the recall.
  • If your puppy does not chase you, you may have made the game too difficult (too far a distance or too many other distractions) or you might not have instilled enough of a desire to chase you before starting the game.
  • You should not need to call your puppy multiple times. If you have to repeat your puppy’s name to get its attention you are simply teaching your puppy to ignore you. I usually do not need to use my puppy’s name at all; I only use the specific sound that I have chosen for the recall.

If you are on your own one trick is to throw a treat behind your puppy. The treat needs to be big enough, so your puppy does not spend time smelling to search for it. Run in the other direction whilst your puppy is getting the treat.