New PuppyTraining Tips

Recall: Teaching Your Puppy “Here” (Video)

I will admit that the first few weeks with Sherlock were an adjustment. The potty training accidents. Quincy’s general grumpiness over a new puppy and tendency to lunge whenever he came within ten feet. Kinsey’s jealously. (I’ve heard dogs don’t get jealous, but that first week I had Sherlock Kinsey wanted up on my lap all the time! What’s that if not jealousy?) But now, things have settled down. Sherlock hasn’t had an accident in the house in over a week. He’s learned to give Quincy a wide berth, and he plays with Kinsey in the yard every day.

teaching-recallThere are a lot of things I love about Sherlock, but for the purposes of this post I will limit myself to two facts.

First, that little puppy wants to be good. He knows I don’t like it when he jumps up, so he will run to see me, sit down, stare up at me and wag so hard his whole rear end moves. When I bend down to scratch him he breaks his sit and wiggles, leaning into my legs.

Second, Sherlock is crazy for people. When I take him with me to dog training he runs to greet everyone he sees with great joy. I will say, he’s a bit much for my two year old niece. He greets her with such enthusiasm he knocks her to the ground. (I have to keep him leashed when she’s around.) Sherlock, of course, loves me the best and will often lay on me when I watch television. After half an hour of rolling around on me and getting his belly scratched, he’ll get too hot and stretch out on the tile floor. But after not too long he’ll come over and check on me, sticking his head up to see if my lap is available.

Gushing over. Moving on to teaching recall. 🙂

teaching-recallThere are three rules for teaching recall to a puppy:

Start small.

When you come you get a treat.

We don’t play chase.

The first rule is to start small in every way. Choose a small room and close the door. Call “here” show the puppy the treat, lead him a couple of small steps toward you and reward him once he’s in front of you with his behind on the ground. (To teach this behavior pull the treat slowly from his nose back. Sit will follow because he wants to keep his eye on the reward.) Do this three times. Day two, same small room, same steps. Once the puppy comes toward you and gives you a pretty sit, reward. Then go a little bigger. Call “here” from the kitchen. After a few days of practice, go outside and try the backyard. The puppy learns responding to “here” means, “YEAH I GET A TREAT!!”

Number two sounds simple enough, but carrying treats in your pockets means you will smell like dog treats, so choose wisely. I like peanut butter pretzel from Costco for big dogs and Zuke’s peanut butter treats for small dogs. If your dog isn’t as crazy for food as mine, cut up hot dogs or cheese will be more enticing. Problem is they’ll go bad in your pocket, so you have to remember to leave them in the fridge at the end of your training session. At least, that’s a problem for me. I forget.

The third rule is harder for me because when a dog runs from me I get quite angry, and walking away takes some serious willpower. Just last week Sherlock had a bully stick that he thought was yum-o. I only let him chew on it for thirty minutes because longer than that would be hard on his jaw and too much bully stick in his belly. When I got close enough to take it, he ran from me, tail up, a thrill in his eye. I wanted very much to yell and chase him and yank that chewie out of his mouth. But, I took a deep breath, turned and went into the house to the treat jar because we don’t play chase. Not ever. Sherlock knows the magic sound of the treat jar as it opens, so he was inside sitting next to me within seconds and we traded–bully stick for peanut butter pretzel! No chasing. No drama. Recall reinforced.

teaching-recallI wish I could be so calm and logical at all times. 🙂

Below is a video of a couple of walks on the wash practicing recall. It was me, an old Canon G11 and three dogs on a beautiful February day in Southern California. The best thing about filming dogs is they don’t complain when we have to go outside for a reshoot. Enjoy…

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