Total Recall

Do you recognize this:

Would you rather recognize this?

Recall is both fun and sometimes difficult – we also want to claim that it is vital. If our dogs are easy to recall we can give them more freedom. Our dogs – we have labradors, golden retrievers and cocker spaniels – are trained for both hunting and hunting tests, and that sometimes requires them to be able to come running to us and leave a very difficult situation behind, for instance when they are hunting for game. That is our goal! We should be able to recall our dogs even when a wild animal is running in front of them. Otherwise we must use a leash at all times.

The first movie, in which Lena – in vain – tries to recall her cocker spaniel Totte made her, of course, sure that she now has to work with this a lot more. Obviously, Totte prefers to dig after a field-mice rather than run to Lena when she asks at him to come. The movie, however, didn’t show when Lena went over to Totte and happily said: “Hello, do you hear me?”, and then he really looked surprised. After that she asked him to sit down in the tall grass, went away from that area and recalled him. Lena gave him a food reward, and then she let him go away and sniff in the grass again, and before he got too interested in all the scents, she recalled him again, and gave him an immense reward! We work in two different ways: distractions and distance. And we use rewards. GOOD rewards!

It was too difficult for Totte to able to come when Lena recalled him in the video, because the distance was too big, and he was busy with the field mouse (but the goal is, of course, that he should be able to run to Lena in such a situation!). If Lena stands closer to him, maybe as close as only a few yards away initially, she might have a chance to get Totte’s attention. Another way to do this is to calmly interrupt the digging, then ask him to sit down in the middle of the scent and walk a little further away to recall him.

We use a little brainwashing when it comes to recalling our dogs. We set up the situation so that the dog can do the right thing again and again, and we also see to that they get really good rewards for it. Then we make it a little more difficult, step by step, and still give the dog very good rewards. Lena has to show Totte, again and again, how incredibly smart it is for him to listen to her, because he will be rewarded greatly. Totte is about eight years old and used to be really good at recalls. He could listen to her and run to her, even if a deer jumped right next to him – therefore she probably only needs to remind him a bit, and then it will be fixed again. She also has to reward him in everyday life, when she recalls him on their walks.

We also teach our dogs to actively “recall themselves” which means that we don’t recall them at all, but instead teach them to “check in” in with us regularly when we are out walking. Have a rubber band in mind: As soon as the dog runs a bit further away from us, he should turn around and run back to us to check in. It means that the dog keeps track of us, not the other way around.

Furthermore, we teach the dogs to actively ignore more and more difficult distractions to choose us. When they see a jogger running by, they should NOT think “I should now run to her and jump up on her” but “now I have to run really fast back to my handler”. How do we teach that? Well, join us in our online recall course and we’ll tell you more 🙂 You’ll get six lessons – one per week – and you can submit an unlimited number of questions and videos if you want to. Or take the course without personal feedback. Read more about the courses below:

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