Laura’s client pup Koko learns to hand target
Recall is not only inspired by a highly prized reward, such as wonderful treats or a fun game of tug, but also by a genuine desire to be with his human partner. That said, there is no greater measure of the depth of a relationship than the strength of your dog’s recall.
Puppies come with a pre-installed recall. Make sweet, happy repetitive noises and a puppy will trot right over, ready to join in the fun. Unfortunately, we often ruin this natural recall by calling the puppy over for something unpleasant, like putting his leash on to leave the dog park, getting out the nail clippers, or reprimanding him for a misbehavior. Assure your puppy’s continued responsiveness by always rewarding him with something pleasurable, like a treat or a toy or simply a little bit of love.
Start by putting your flat hand (palm forward) casually to the side of your dog’s nose. Mark the very moment that your pup touches his nose to your hand with a “yes!” and give him a treat. Gradually you will notice him touching your hand purposefully. Then start holding it farther from him, making him move to touch the hand. Make this a fun game! When he’s consistently touching his nose when he sees the flat hand, say the verbal command “touch” first, then hold out your hand. “Touch” means that he should come and touch your hand. From afar, this will become “Fido, touch!”… “Fido” is to get his attention, “touch” tells him what to do, and he’ll look for your flat hand to touch. Then you’ve got your recall! Keep this exercise exuberant in nature.
Laura Garber, CPDT-KA
Behavior Manager, Pennsylvania SPCA
Laura believes strongly in strengthening the bond between human and companion animal. For this reason, she regards training as an exercise in building relationship rather than obedience. Such an approach promises greater understanding and symbiosis within our family packs.