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”.

Let’s Wait with Send Away

We are going to combine three of the games you taught to your puppy over the first four weeks of this course.

The First objective is to test that your puppy has understood some of the previous games whilst working in the “Wait” command. This time you will be “Sending Away” your puppy to the mat and asking your puppy to wait there. This contrasts with you moving away from your puppy.

This is also often a missing link in many training plans to teach a puppy to “Wait”. Puppies are often not comfortable to be separated from us, yet we ask them to wait. This game is helping your puppy to be more confident when it is a little distance away from you as it is the puppy’s decision to move away.

For this game, you need to have achieved the following first:

  • Your puppy should be able to sit on command.
  • You puppy should be able to go to its mat on command from a small distance (even just half a meter) – remember start small, make it a success.
  • You have started to work on “Wait”.

Now you are going to send your puppy to his mat, to ask it to “Sit” then to “Wait” and then you are going to return to your puppy:

  1. Locate yourself at a distance from the mat. This distance should only be as far as you know your puppy will be comfortable to go to the mat or raised bed.
  2. Ask your puppy to go to its mat.
  3. Once your puppy is on its mat, ask your puppy to sit. Do not use its name as you have been working on teaching your puppy to come to you when called.
  4. Ask your puppy to “Wait”.
  5. Slowly go back to your puppy.
  6. Click and Reward.
  7. Give the release command to stop the game.

You are now doing what we call “chaining behaviours”.  You are adding a chain of three behaviours that your puppy has learnt independently before rewarding your puppy.  It is magic, you are now starting to ask your puppy for more complex tasks, and it is still all part of a game. Well-done!

If you puppy is good at this game, you can

  • slowly increase the distance between you and the mat
  • slowly increase how long you make you puppy wait before going back to your puppy

Should I stay or should I go?

We have worked a lot these past few weeks on focus work. We are now going to introduce the “Wait” or “Stay”. Sometimes the puppies can be anxious to be away from their owner, so be patient.

“Stay” or “Wait” is much easier to teach when your puppy has a good value for its mat or raised bed. This is because the mat has become a comfort area, so your puppy will be less motivated to leave the mat to come to you.

These are the first steps to teach a reliable wait (or stay):

  1. Ideally ask your puppy to go to his mat
  2. Take a step away from the mat and then quickly return
  3. Click and reward. At this stage I reward the puppy directly on the mat.
  4. With time try to take two steps away before returning. Always ensure that your movements are fast enough so your puppy does not have a chance to think of moving.
  5. When your puppy starts to understand to stay in position whilst you are moving away, introduce the word “Stay” or “Wait” whilst leaving your puppy.
  6. Do not forget to release your puppy with your chosen release word.

Tips and tricks:

We are not trying to test our puppies by making the game difficult, so they fail and break their wait. We are teaching them that it is OK if you are moving away from them and that we will come back with the reward.

 We are not recalling the puppy at this stage; the reward area needs to be where the puppy is sitting to reinforce the “Wait”. If you start to recall too early in the process your puppy will start to anticipate this and will be more likely to break his stay.

 If your puppy is not paying attention to you whilst waiting, do not call your puppy by its name to get its focus. This is a common mistake resulting in the puppy breaking its wait and running to its owner:  this is what the puppy had learnt with the “Call me once and grab my collar” game. The important point is that your puppy stays on the mat or raised bed.

If your puppy already has a good wait, try increasing the distance you move away.