Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Training: Safety Recall

 Mr. B was a wanderer in his past life. Instead of taking him on walks, or even keeping him in a yard, Mr. B had free reign and could come and go as he pleased.When we adopted him, and he moved to the city, we needed to make sure he kept his wandering ways under wraps. During his first week, he scurried out the back door, down the stairs, around our building-where someone happened to leave the gate open--and took off down the block. E was lucky enough to get him back, but it was enough to scare us into action.
During our training classes, we had learned about a safety recall word; it's only on special occasions to keep your dog out of danger. It's supposed to condition them enough that like a robot they will forget whatever they were doing and come racing back to you. It's simple enough to condition, but it takes some time:
1) Use a word that's easy to say in emergency and you don't say often. We use "Yikes!".
2) You start conditioning your dog by yelling the word, followed by come, then giving them the best food ever.
3) Eventually you start dropping the come, but any time you use the special word they have to have a high reward.
4) Apparently, this is not a word you use lightly, and it may take awhile for them to actually have the 'robotic' reaction.
The word is enough to rouse Miss M from a deep slumber and send her racing from the furthest room. Luckily we've never had to use it in a real situation, so we don't know how robotic they will become. Has anyone else tried this?

26 comments:

Two Crazy Coaches said...

I love the idea of a special word only used in emergencies. I might have to think about doing that. Flash used to dart out the door when we first got her, but thankfully she's gotten a lot better and will stay at least a foot back.

Shawnee the Shepherd said...

I was not trained to a special word but was trained reliably on a recall without using treats. The way that works is when walking on leash, whenever my ears would perk and I would zone on something like a squirrel, mom would say COME, abruptly run backwards, spin me around and reel me in with the leash then make me sit front of her, just like learning the recall. She did this consistently EVERY SINGLE TIME if I even thought I might be interested in chasing something. It got to the point where I would see a squirrel and look at mom instead of the squirrel. Then she would tell me what a good girl I was. When mom knew it was second nature to react immediately when hearing COME was one day when she opened the car door, I flew out after a squirrel in the neighbor's yard, mom said COME, and I spun around on a dime and came back without a single moment of hesitation. I have done that consistently on the COME command ever since. In fact, I even lost the desire to chase wildlife completely so that was an added bonus. So same end result, robotic reaction to the word COME because it was practiced into my brain to do that just by repetition and redirecting.

Corbin said...

We have to train something like that into Corbin... he's awful at the "come" command. We're taking classes in January, so hopefully that helps. We've worked on it so much... but staying in the yard is much cooler than any treat I could possibly have in my hand.
-Corbin's momma, Jenn

loveandaleash said...

I LOVE the photo of Mr B leaping through the air. It looks a lot like Lollie when she is surprised by a squirrel flying out of the bushes and skittering across the street in front of us. I would love to work on a really strong recall like this-- both of our pits have a pretty strong prey drive, so if they get to chasing a cat, it is difficult if not impossible to dissuade them from their pursuit.

By the way, I meant to tell y'all-- we got over 800 hits the day you gave Lollie's blog a shout-out on yours. That's more than twice our previous high!

Aleksandra
follow our foster: loveandaleash.wordpress.com

Levi Mac said...

My mom said she never heard of this before but wants to try it once I am all better! She loves the idea in case I ever got away from her :)
What bestest special treats did you use?

Love-A-Bull said...

I love this idea. When I first got Blackie, he was not very good at "come" and it really scared me since I live on a busy street. He is a lot better now and almost always listens but I would love to be able to teach him an emergency come command that could pull him away from a squirrel chase.
-- Sarah and Blackie
www.iloveabull.com

Benny and Lily said...

What an awesome idea. Mom wants to know if you will train 2 Frenchies? We think she means us
Benny & Lily

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

I haven't, but I think it's a really good idea. My dogs seem to unfailingly repond to the really concerned/higher pitched freak-out voice: If I'm a bit worried I have a tendency to yelp out their name and they come trotting back.

Shauna (Fido and Wino) said...

@Shawnee- That is amazing!

Patty said...

Best idea ever!!! Rusty's recall is horrendous off leash. I will have to do this! At the dog park, when it's NOT busy, I'll carry treats in a air-tight container and give Rusty one every time he comes near me, but I'm not consistent and I have to be.

Wyatt said...

That is a really good idea, thanks for sharing that. Both our dogs have good recall, but I've noticed lately, it is taking them a little longer to react. A bit of selective hearing.."what did you say?" "Oh...you want me to come."

Wyatt's Mom

Kari in WeHo said...

One of the training classes we took in AK was "Really Reliable Recall" in which the instructor brought in a ton of distractions (even Moose Poop, an AK delicacy for dogs) as the class got harder. We learned that if a stranger has sardines, Mesa will always choose the stranger.

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com/

mayziegal said...

Well, we learned about this in one of my classes but, well, my mom's been a bit of a slacker in working with us. Maybe I'll have to remind her about it after the first of the year.

Wiggles & Wags,
Mayzie

rescuedinsanity.com said...

Oh man, recalls. We are still working on this. In general, she is pretty good, but with dogs or cats or birds or any other "living" distraction it is really tough. Mostly because the only way to proof it is by being around living distractions and since she has no recall around them I don't like to let her off-leash, etc. It becomes a cycle. The finest cheese in the world is no match for the thrill of chasing a bird.

Do you have any advice for how you went about actually training this emergency recall? I assume you just started around the house and then took it outdoors? Maybe I should give it a whirl.

brooke said...

We dont have an emergency word, but thats a good idea. We do need to work on Darwin's recall in general. While she's good about it sometimes its definitely not 100%. She gave me a heartattack and simultaneously made me want to kill her one day when she decided it was fun to run away from me when we were at the storage unit and went out the gate as a car came in and ran across the road to a patch of grass to graze. I could've killed her. I did have the peace of mind not to chase her and instead calmly approached her as she grazed and pretended she had found something really interesting and then grabbed her collar.

Zona said...

I don't have a special word but my two little cousins do! Molly DID robotically run back when it was used in a semi-serious situation. I hope you never have to use it but it sure is nice to have as an option! I should talk to my mom about this...

Wags,
Zona

Fiona, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

That's a great idea! Neither of the girls is particularly reliable with recalls - they are getting better, but we need to keep working with them. (Right now, the only thing that GUARANTEES a recall is to have a frisbee in my hand...) At least they have learned to not dash out the door (or out of the car)... That's why they sell turkey hotdogs, right? ;-) I like the idea of an emergency word, though. Thanks for that!

-Dr. Liz (the girls are sleeping - otherwise they'd likely protest their lack of recall skills...)

Those Elgin Pugs said...

I have not tried that. When Anakin or Izzy have escaped from the leash or car or ran out the front door before.. I find that if I kneel down and not frantically run after them - they come back to me right away!
My mom told me in situations where the dog is highly agitated (don't laugh) you are suppose to lay down on the ground (if the dog thinks you are hurt or injured they will come running up to you..check you out and even lick you).

Jess said...

We don't have a "special word" but we've been thinking lately we need to pick one. Twice in the last week, with workers coming in and out, we've had escapes. Fortunately Airlie just wants to say hi to everyone and isn't so intereted in wandering. But when Zorro slipped out, I freaked. He's not the brightest of dogs (though we love him no less!) and if I hadn't been close behind him, I'm afraid he'd have been gone. Definitely scary...

houndstooth said...

I like the idea, but I have to admit that I've never heard of it or tried it. Our second Greyhound was a bit spooky and especially in the first couple of years that we had him, he would occasionally freak out about something. A couple of times, he actually pulled out of his collar. I've got to say, that's about the worst feeling you can imagine. We'd been through obedience class and he knew the basic commands really well. Fortunately, I yelled "sit" before he got to the street corner and by some miracle, he sat and waited for me!

Two Pitties in the City said...

We mostly did it around the house. Our trainer said we need to build it up more in the house, rather than going outside, because if we do it outside and it doesn't work then the whole idea has failed.
We usually use tuna or salami as our high reward treats.

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

This is a great idea. I really need to work on recall with Melanie, and since she'll only "work for food" this would be a great way to do it. Nemo and Molly have good recall (well, when Molly can hear you she does ... at least she's not going anywhere without us quickly!), but Melanie isn't reliable at all. Although, maybe her emergency recall word should just be "treat" because she does tend to come running when you say that :)

Kirby, CGC said...

Yes, we learned about this in obedience class too. Our trainer also used a squeaky toy on one of her dogs to get him to come back. I agree it's an important lesson to learn!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Kirby's Mom

Daisy Dog said...

Rosceo was a darter too. The word that works is "treat", he is vary food motivated :)

Susan Campisi said...

The trainer I worked with taught the recall word. I didn't learn the safety version, but she did drill in the point that recall was the command that could save your dog's life. Her technique was that you had to use that word in a happy voice, every single time, no matter how stressed or angry you might be. And every time your dog comes running up to you, it's a party - you have to shower him with treats and praise. I have to admit it didn't work when Tommy chased a cat up a tree but otherwise it has. I'm glad I never had to use it to save his life.

Jennie Bailey said...

We did recall in our puppy class and not only does it work, it STICKS! She's four now and we just had to use it yesterday. Our mailperson never shuts our gate after delivering the mail. My husband let Lily out in the yard and she went straight out the gate. She turns on a dime the minute she hears the word QUICK no matter the distraction. It's been a lifesaver. The only problem is that my husband has forgotten to use it because he's been so panicked. We trained her with fresh roasted chicken and that was the only time she got it. Our trainer told us "if you aren't embarrassed, you aren't training her right" - we were told to run the opposite direction, wave our hands like a crazy person and shout her word. As soon as she got to us, we were on our knees, holding the chicken so she had to tear bits of it off and repeating the word, "What a good QUICK! That was such a good QUICK! QUICK is so much fun! We love QUICK!" Our neighbors did think we were crazy, but then they joined us and helped train her! Even now sometimes I'll use some leftover chicken and go in another room or run outside shouting QUICK just to keep her fresh. It really works!

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