Recall

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Recall

What the rule book says

The handler will stand at a place indicated by the Judge/Steward. When ready, the judge will order him to leave his dog.  The handler will then command the dog to stay in a “Sit” or “Down” position and will move from the dog as directed. When the handler has reached the place required by the judge he will, on the order of the judge, command the dog to come to him.

In the Beginners and Novice Classes, the order to recall the dog will only be given when the handler is stationary and facing the dog.

In Class “A” the order to recall the dog to Heel may be given at any time after the handler has left the dog and while the handler is moving in any direction except towards the dog. The handler will continue moving until ordered to halt.

The recall exercise can be found in some form or other in every class from Special Beginners to Class “C.” It is obvious then that a correct, fast Recall forms an important part of competition obedience and should be perfected before teaching Retrieve and Scent exercises.

Puppy Recall

Puppies must be taught that coming to you is fun. Hold a treat level with the dog’s nose, call the dog’s name and then run backwards. This is a very popular, foundation exercise.

With puppies start by sitting on the ground with your legs spread out to form a “V.” Offer a treat and use your legs to guide the puppy into the right position very close to your face. I teach my dogs to take food from my lips.

For larger puppies you can kneel down sitting on your heels or use a small stool. At home a chair would do for most dogs.  I find that by leaning my back against a wall and spreading my legs forward I can create the same position for a correct present for larger breed dogs.

Fast Return

A helper is needed to teach this exercise. He must hold the young dog or puppy by the collar while you position yourself in front of the dog; allow it to sniff on a treat before moving away quite quickly to a distance of about ten paces. Lower your body or sit in a submissive posture and call in a happy and exciting voice. As soon as the dog reacts to your call and starts pulling forward and is excited, the helper holds on for a second or two before releasing the dog. Keep calling all the way to you, hug and give a “jackpot” reward for a fast return. Do not demand a Sit or Present.

The helper now fetches the dog back to the start and the exercise is repeated four more times. If the helper is a family member or well known by the dog, the game can change by calling the dog back to him and taking turns in being the caller.
Quick sprints between handler and helper creates lots of fun.

When a dog is able to do a Sit Stay and reacts to a toy, the same speed exercise is done but now, standing with your legs slightly further apart, call and just as the dog is about to reach you, throw the ball through between your legs for the dog to continue with speed searching for the toy or ball.

I also find that doing the recall with the dog running downhill towards you encourages a speed return.

The formal exercise

In the competition ring the Novice Recall consists of the combination of four exercises:

  1. The Sit
  2. The wait
  3. The Recall
  4. The Present
  5. The Finish

All of which can be taught separately and in any order depending on the dog.

The Sit and Wait

I combine the sit and wait in that I teach my dogs that “Sit” = “Remain sitting until I give you another command,” which can be anything such as, “Come, Down, Fetch or OK”.

See other articles on this website aimed at teaching a reliable Sit and attention training.

Once you have told your dog to “Sit” and “Watch,” you move into the Heel position and stand still for a few seconds demanding full attention as if preparing for Heeling. With the lead held in the left hand, give a “Sit” command and at the same time give a light, backwards tug on the leash as you step off on your right leg and walk to the end of the leash, turn around and face the dog. You then return to the Present position close to the dog’s nose before moving back into the Heel position. All the dog has to do is sit still and watch as you move about.  This exercise also teaches the dog to watch your body positions in that the left leg is to be followed and the right legs signals a stay.

However, most clubs teach handlers to use a Sit-stay command as they leave the dog and then perform a recall. Some confusion may occur when using the “Wait”= I’m going to call you vs “Stay” = I’m going to return to you,  indiscriminately.

This sequence of movements must be repeated a number of times before attempting the recall. Any movement by the dog is met with a sharp, “No Sit.”

The Recall

Novice Recall: It is very important, especially in the beginning, to ensure that coming to the owner must always be
a pleasure to the dog. When the owner calls, the dog must ignore smells and other dogs in order to get to its owner. If a dog does not reliably come when called, it must be kept on a long line during walks until the dog has learnt to comply.

As before, leave the dog and walk to the end of a loose leash. With the slack leash held in your left hand at your side, call the dog as you take a step backwards and at the same time bring both hands into your groin. The backward step and the hand movements will create a tug on the leash and ensure that the dog reacts immediately. Keep moving backwards until just before the dog gets to you. Present a treat and praise enthusiastically. Beginner trainers often make the mistake of wanting to keep running backwards.  When this happens the dog tries to run around the owner and the present position is lost.

The Present

That’s the name for the dog sitting close and straight in front when it comes to the handler.  It can be taught as a second command, “Sit” or form part of “Come” which is meant to include the sit in the correct position. In my own case I use the “Here” command which includes both.

Place the dog in the Sit and position yourself directly in front of the dog about a leash length away. Using both hands together and a treat or ball held level with the dog’s nose (to prevent jumping) to attract the dog, call “Come! Sit!” Only when the dog sits close and straight is the dog praised and rewarded. Each time the dog sits crookedly, take a step back and repeat the “Come! Sit!” command.

A common mistake occurs when the dog is called from further away in that it is now inclined to sit too far away from the handler’s body. The reason for this is that handler s usually bends forward to meet the coming dog, resulting in the away sit. If this happens; take a step back with one leg, call the dog and as it moves forward, bring that leg forward again to achieve a perfect and close present.

Class A Recall

Once the dog is happy and confident in the Novice Recall the Class A Recall can be taught. However, in order to avoid confusing the dog many trainers start by teaching it from the Down Position.

Start by getting the dog to Sit straight next to you in the Heel position. Give a “Sit” command and step off on the right leg to the end of the lead halting with your back to the dog. Call the dog to heel and then when he is next to you take a few steps forward together in the heel position. Praise enthusiastically. Repeat several times. In order to help my dog to halt correctly in the Heel position, I use my right hand to push the air over the dog’s head which always provides a quick and
accurate sit.

When the dog can do the exercise perfectly you can begin to walk in a left circle and later to the right before halting. Gradually the left circle can be straightened into a sharp corner as is the case in obedience competitions. The left side is the “easy” side to rejoin the handler and should be perfected first.

Now is also the time to time to look over your shoulder, give a visible signal with your left arm and call the dog to heel as can be done in competition.

Off leash work can now be attempted and distances can be increased. With younger dogs it is a good idea to face the oncoming dog and help it by talking and you moving into the heel position and only to halt when you have full control of the situation.

Adding an About Turn the instant the dog re-joins the handler stops dogs that run too fast from overshooting and controls the exercise.

A fun exercise I use at home to help with A Recall is to hold a special treat or favorite toy next to my left hip and then try to get away from my dog by turning left and right. If the dog gets into the Heel position I must praise and reward my dog.

The Finish

The handler has a choice as to how this exercise is performed.  In the right-hand (English) finish the dog has to circle behind the handler to sit at Heel.  The Continental (German) finish requires the dog to pivot to the left of the handler to finish at Heel.

Right- hand finish.

1) The dog sits in the Present position. Take the leash in the right hand and take a large step backwards with the right leg while at the same time pulling the dog past your right side as you say, “Heel” and gently guide the dog around your back, swopping hands on the leash. As the dog enters into the Heel position your right leg moves forward again.

2) The dog sits in the Present position. Take a step to your left so that the dog is sitting to the right of your right leg. Take the lead behind your back in your left hand. Give a Heel command and using the right hand to get the dog moving behind your back into the Heel position.

Left-hand finish,

1)      See in the article on Heeling on how Polo was taught to automatically do a left-hand finish based on her knowledge of the Heel Position training.

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