If you really want brilliant recall in later life this guide on psychologically training your puppy at an early age, should ensure your dog should not have recall problems in adulthood.
Often we introduce whistle commands far too late in the puppies training cycle. Starting pups very young on the whistle for recall and the sit pays huge dividends, yet we often do not take this opportunity.
Introduce the whistle as early as possible by associating exciting and pleasurable experiences.
Even whilst still with the mother. pups will readily respond to the recall whistle by six or seven weeks old. I have seen litters of very young pups scamper to the whistle in excitement.
When puppies associate experiences with a whistle in a positive manner they will respond enthusiastically to their reward of affection, food, treats, or a game. Always make the whistle something pleasurable.
The same is true of the "sit". Pups can consistently comply with this whistle command by twelve weeks old. They will eagerly sit on the whistle when the reward is good and the commands are given consistently.
Start by preparing the dog’s food and getting someone to hold the pup 10 or 12 feet away, blow your normal recall (which in most cases is two peeps on the whistle) and get the helper to release the pup.
Extend this by getting your helper to hold the pup in another room and repeating the process.
Another great way of setting the whistle is buy two whistles. Position your dog in the middle of two people, close enough to touch,. Get some treats, high value ones like cheese, sausage or Fish4dogs superstars. see this Article about food, behaviour and treats.
Blow two peeps on the whistle, if he doesn't respond blow again and either touch his ear or his muzzle. When the dog looks at you immediately say “good” “take it” and give a high quality treat.
Then the person behind the dog does the same. “Good” is the same as a clicker and “take it” Is permission to take your treat. Gradually remove the treat almost completely when learning has occurred. I use and sell ACME whistles.
Allowing the puppy to become more mature before introducing the whistle is not conducive to a good recall response in later life. At six-month-old without early training, pups will pay little or no heed to their owners recall commands, making any future training remedial and therefore far more difficult. See adult training on Recall.
ACME whistles; they are the best on the market and are numbered. Therefore if you lose your whistle you can order a replacement with exactly the same tone, as they are manufactured to exacting specifications.
I use the 211.5, you can buy them from my website. The come with a Doglistener Lanyard Click on the picture of the whistle for more information
Early Psychological Reinforcement: Imagine that your young puppies brain is a CD, written to that CD are the breeder and their family, the mother, siblings, and any other dogs the breeder has. Then you and your family and friends come into the equation then of course the Vet and people you meet on the street.
There is nothing on that CD that says that if he runs away; it will be far more interesting than staying with you. You are the centre of the pups universe. so let him off the lead, the dog is not going anywhere, it will stick like glue to your every move.
The first time you take your dog into the big wild world, which should be as early as possible after the second vaccination, you should let him off. Make sure you pick a safe place without too many distractions or other dogs, pick an area with plenty of trees.
Now what is vitally important is that the dog gets a slight feeling of anxiety when he cannot see you. Move upwind, then whilst he is distracted, quickly hide behind something, like a tree or a fence, he will eventually look up and start to panic.
Allow this to happen for a short while, he will eventually run around and hopefully pick up your scent and find where you are hiding. When this happens, make a big fuss and give a high value treat.
I use mild cheddar cheese which is the one of the best treats for training but not so easy to carry. Alternatively tasty dry high value treats that you can keep loose in you pocket and all dogs love them. Frankfurter is also good but not so easy to carry.
If he starts to panic and does not find you after a while then blow your whistle and show yourself, praise and treat when he runs up to you, a valuable lesson will have been learned. He will not think you have hidden but will think you have gotten lost; this will instill the need to keep you in view at all times as he now realise's that you are unreliable unless he keeps a very wary eye on you..
By doing this early on in the dogs life when information is soaked up and retained, it will have far more long lasting effect than at any other time in your dog’s life. These initial reinforcements are critical, however if you want to use your dog as a gundog to pick up game in later life you can introduce the ethos of track and retrieve out of sight, but with tight recall when necessary.
Lead Work: Call your puppy to you and put your normal lead on three or four times during every walk then he will not learn that the lead means the end of playtime. We have all seen the dogs that dance around 5/6 feet from their owners at the end of the walk. The owners have actually taught the dogs this frustrating habit by only ever putting the lead back on at the end of the walk. The dog then works out that the lead means the end of all the fun and games. You will have successfully taught him to run away when you go to put his lead on. Each time you put the lead on for the first six weeks give him a small treat then gradually reduce this until you ate only treating occasionally.
The Sit Stay: A great way of setting up recall for both puppies and adult dogs is by training the sit stay, so that the dog responds as if it has super glue on its bum. For this you will need a quality lead at least 5.5 foot long and a good collar, and of course the jingler
the picture shows a young shepherd with the Jingler , my collar and lead. You can buy them from my site.
Click on the photo for more info
This will be your basis for the recall if your dog starts to get selective deafness at about 4.5 to 5 months of age and does not want to listen to your commands. Or just at the outset of recall training so you can get stronger whistle and recall work.
Once again, the dog should be on a 5.8 foot lead with a Jingler attached.Get the dog to sit with the dog on your left side holding the lead in you left hand. Using the cupped palm of your right hand bring it to the dogs nose saying gently “ Stay” three times.
Swivel in front of the dog so you are facing it and slowly back up to the length of the lead. Holding the lead in the middle with your left hand and in the loop with your right hand. With your right hand gently pull on the lead what we are looking for is a sit stay that is so solid that even you pulling on the lead will not budge the dog.
If when you move backwards or put pressure on the lead, the dog moves then lift the lead smartly upwards over the back of the dogs head with your left hand, so it activates the Jingler and say “Stay”. If he has moved you may have to take him back to the original position. Keep repeating till you can get to the end of the lead and give it even harder pressure, if the dog moves then move the lead upwards again and say “Stay” if the dog stays then go back praise and treat.
Keep repeating till you think the dog has got the message and then start dropping the lead and moving further backwards but always turn your back on the dog when you walk away. when you have moved away turn and use the index finger of the right hand and say “Stay” If your dog starts moving you have gone too far to fast, shorten the distance again.
Once rock solid you can just use the index finger for the stay rather than the right hand, and you will only need to say “Stay” once at this time. Once you can get the sit stay at 100 yards Then start to call your dog to you with either Come or Here or a Whistle. But don’t call him to you every time or he will start anticipating the command. As with the sit and down commands only treat the best stays and the best results once he has mastered this technique. You may have to go back close to him when you start the recall and really encourage him.
The best way to learn these techniques is through my Jingler DVD at only 11.95 it is invaluable in helping you follow my techniques. Click for more info