By admin Posted in Advanced /

What the rulebook says:
The handler stands at a spot indicated by the judge/steward with the dog in the heel position. When he is ready, he is ordered to “leave the dog.” The handler now commands the dog to “stay,” steps off on his right foot and moves to a spot as indicated by the judge/steward. (In Beginners and Novice Class the handler stands directly in front of the dog and facing it. In Class A the order to Recall the dog may be given at any time after he handler has left the dog and while moving in any direction as ordered by the judge/steward.)
On the order of the judge/steward the handler commands the dog to “come” to him.
When the dog reaches and sits in front, the handler will then be ordered to “Finish” when the dog is ordered to return to the heel position.

The most important aspect of the recall is the steadiness of the dog when left until called by the handler and the prompt response in coming to the handler!

The Recall is actually a combination of the “Sit-Stay,” “Come,” Front sit and Coming to heel exercises and need to be practiced separately.

“Sit-Stay”: see Basics.
“Come”: see basics but now
1. Create frustration in the dog to get to you by first giving a firm Sit-Stay, and then moving some distance away before calling the dog. When the dog gets near you, gently throw a ball into the air in the direction of the dog for him to catch it and then let the dog play for a while before repeating.
2. Later, instead of throwing the ball into the air, stand with legs apart and when the dog gets close to you, throw the ball through between your legs and let the dog run through as well. Repeat this over and over to get the dog used to going through your legs at good speed.
3. Increase the distance once the dog understands what to do. Make the distances longer when possible and experiment by holding the dog back longer. Create frustration by talking to him, “A-a-a-are you ready? Come!”
4. Repeat the above exercise but now from the “SIT” and “DOWN” positions. If the dog anticipates by breaking the SIT-STAY, go back to the SIT-STAY and DOWN-STAY exercises away from the recall. It is a good idea to let the dog sit for up to half a minute before calling him; otherwise he may be inclined to anticipate if called immediately each time. Never get cross or correct the dog when it is coming to you.

Front sit:
1. Introduce the front sit with food. As the dog nears you, offer a tidbit in the dog’s direction at his head height. Move your hands closer to your body and then with an upward motion….”like you are closing a trouser zip.” This movement should draw the dog into a front sitting position. If necessary give a “Sit” command followed by “Closer, closer” as you draw the food closer to your body. The aim is to get the dog’s chin touching your body. I use the “Here” command and food to get Juno and Quanto to sit very close to my body. No food is given until I am satisfied that they are as close to me as is possible. At first, I drop the treats, held next to my chest, so that it falls directly into the dog’s mouth. When they realise that the only way to receive a treat is to sit correctly in front and touching me with the chin, I start use the back of my hand to gently stroke down the top of their noses until they are standing very still and are obviously enjoying the caressing! A tap on the nose easily gets the dog to be still and pay attention before a treat is given. Food should be used at first because it does not disrupt the training exercise as is the case when you reward the dog with a ball and then have to play for a while before being able to  repeat  the exercise.
2. The ball on a string can be introduced for dogs who love to play ball. Gradually, as the dog gets more used to the front sit, do it more frequently. Put the ball under the chin or preferably hide it in the top of a loose fitting jacket (Seeing the ball can be too much of a distraction for most dogs). When the dog sits close to your body and looks up at your face, slowly reach for the ball inside your jacket, hold it in front of the chest just above the dog’s head and then toss it away as a reward for the dog to fetch. The reason for a slow initial movement of the ball is that it instils anticipation and discipline into the dog.
3. Sitting straight is now emphasised, but SPEED and positive ATTITUDE is still very important. Remember that the reward, food/treat, is released only when the dog performs a front sit accurately. If the front sit deteriorates, i.e. the dog sits too far from the handler (usually a sign of avoidance or bad beginner training or because the handler leans forward towards the approaching dog), then practice the front sits separately away from the recall.
This can be done by sitting in a chair and let the dog come in between your legs and close to your chest and face. Leaning backwards against a wall with your feet wide apart and knees bent to let the dog come close, also works well.

All other time spent on the recall must be devoted to creating as much drive and speed as possible. Play ball to encourage speed. Click as he runs to you.

Problem Solving:
If the dog slows down when it nears you, (often caused because of an incorrect correction given when the dog approached the handler), then time must be spent building trust again.
Running backwards as the dog begins to slow down may help. As the dog nears you, bend forward and pick up a bit of grass or pretend to be picking something up, then hold it close to the body as the dog reaches you. He will have seen you picking something up and will be keen to investigate and see what you have found.
Moving towards the dog, clapping hands, yelling encouragements to let the dog know you want to be near him, often works well.

“Finish” – Coming to Heel:
1. The meaning of “HEEL” (i.e. coming into the heel position) with food: The dog sits in front of the handler on leash. Give the “HEEL” command and guide the dog to finish on your left side by taking hold of the lead with the right hand near the dog’s neck, then, stepping backwards with the right leg and pulling him past your right side and around your back and as you swop hands behind your back, step forward again to place your legs together, while the dog is guided close to your left side. (Click and treat) Give food and lots of praise, “Good dog”, and “Good heel”. Repeat 10-15 times without the dog getting tired as food is given each time with praise.
Stepping back with the left leg and guiding the dog into the heel position with your left hand is another way to come to heel.

2 Eliminate moving feet to help the dog: After a few days or more, if the dog begins to move on his own, do not move your feet. Give the “Heel” command and guide the dog by pulling him around you body into the correct position. Reward with food and “Good dog”, “Good heel”.

3Add “Sit” command: When the dog moves around on his own, without being guided, give the “Sit” command and reward him when he does so. Hold the food/treat, which should be in the right fist, next to your left shoulder and the dog will automatically sit. Repeat as necessary. Interchange with ball.

4 Take a step forward: Give a “Sit St-a-aay” Take a step forward with your right leg moving first so that the dog remains sitting. Give a “Heel” command and guide the dog into the correct position. Reward and praise. Now a pop correction can be given if he does not move immediately.
5 Take two steps forward: As above. But now more steps can be taken.

6 Take a step sideways: Give, “Stay” command, shuffle sideways then give the “Heel” command and expect the dog to move into the correct heel position. The dog must learn that he must get close to your left side when told to heel. Reward with food and praise. More steps can now be taken in different directions. Don’t expect perfection yet. However, over time the dog must know what the correct heel position is.

Training rule: Step off with the left leg if you want the dog to heel. Step off on your right leg if you want the dog to stay. Your leg becomes a secondary command and the dog will later react automatically to stay or heel depending on the leg that is moved first. No command will be needed.

The stage has now been reached where the complete Recall exercise can be practiced.
Remember, as the dog improves, raise your standards and only reward quality moves. Should the dog have difficulties in performing some sections, it is advisable to lower your standard temporally while attending to that section. Always end a session on a successful note!

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