Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Training Foundation- "Come"

"Come, Duke, Come"
Author, Jan Casey

Phideaux, come! Come,

Does this sound
familiar? Does the cue of “Come!” signal to your dog that it’s time to practice
for the long distance Olympic run? Wouldn’t it be nice if Phideaux decided that
coming to you was better than running wild and free? Good news! It is possible
to get your dog to come no matter what his age or background.

Perhaps one of the
finest trainers of recall is Bob Bailey, who trained animals for several
different governmental agencies. From dolphins for the Navy to cats for the
CIA, Mr. Bailey developed reward-based techniques to have the animals return to
the trainer. Dolphins returned reliably even after missions that required them
to be in the open ocean for twelve hours. He accomplished these phenomenal
results without the use of aversive equipment such as shock collars (also known
as training collars or e-collars). Positive training does work!

So what does it take to
get a good recall on Phideaux? Let’s start with your relationship with your
dog. Step back and take a look at why Phideaux might consider it worth his
effort to come to you. Dogs do what is rewarding to them. Does coming to you
mean something good will happen or will he be put in the house, away from all
the fun smells? Will it mean he gets a treat or just end his playtime? Will he
get praise and petting or will coming to you mean he will be punished? Have you
established that coming to you is better than whatever else is out there?

The best time to start
recall training on your dog is when he is a pup. Puppies have a natural desire
to be with you. Using this to your advantage will pay off down the road. Begin
by rewarding the pup every time he comes to you. Rewards can be treats, games
of tug or fetch, or simply petting. A great game to play is called “puppy ping
pong” in which two people face each other and practice calling the puppy back
and forth between them. Each person should have a reward for the puppy when he
comes. Another great game is to disappear around a corner when the puppy is
otherwise occupied and then call him by name, making sure to reward him when he
finds you. Be sure not to make it too difficult for the puppy in the beginning.
Try these games with your older dog as well!

What if you have adopted
an older dog or you just didn’t spend time training your puppy to come when
called? The good news is your dog can still be taught to come on cue! You will
want to start with some of the best treats ever (in his opinion, not yours).
Say his name, then use a marker like a click from a clicker or a quick “Yes!”
the minute he turns to look at you. Reward him with a treat. Do this throughout
the day in areas where Phideaux will not be distracted. Should Phideaux choose
not to look at you, be sure to ignore him for a short while then try again. If
he continues to ignore you, choose better treats or try working in an area with
fewer distractions (a new use for the bathroom!). Keep working until Phideaux
is reliably looking to you when cued.

Begin to add a little
distance so Phideaux must come to you to get the treat when you call his name.
You can add a cue word for the recall when you are sure he will come. Please
note that it is extremely important to use a new, different word from what you
may have previously been using. If you have been using “come,” try “here,”
“front,” or “check” as Phideaux probably thinks the old word means “keep doing
whatever you want.” The better Phideaux gets at coming, the more you will want
to add distractions like working outside or adding people or other dogs to the
trials. Just remember to always set him up for success. Go slowly, adding one
new element at a time. In other words, don’t take him to a park with five new
dogs the first week of training and expect a perfect recall.

There are rules for
recall. Keep training sessions short and fun. Never call your dog to you to
punish him or do something to him he won’t like - just go get him instead.
Training for off lead work should always take place in a safe area. Have fun!
If you’re not having fun, chances are he’s not either!

Jan Casey is a
reward-based trainer in Florida
at Courteous Canine, Inc.
and owner of Smiles and Wags Pet Services Mrs.
Casey is a member of the Association of Animal
Behavior Professionals.
Casey is a columnist for the Cookeville,
Herald-Citizen Pet
and Kid's Korner .
This column was originally written for the Herald-Citizen

No comments:

Post a Comment