Last night Chet and I watched a video called Really Reliable Recall by Leslie Nelson, a dog trainer in Manchester, CT (ok, Chet fell asleep, so it was really just me.)
Ms. Nelson’s method involves having some really tasty treats with you and rewarding your dog whenever you are out on the trail or in your home or yard and your pet “checks in with you.” Obviously the younger your dog is when you start the better, but it should work on adult dogs too. The trick to this is to call your pet and reward them when they return to you, HOWEVER what you must keep in mind when training your dog is never call your pet if you think they will not come. Ah, the catch. So if your dog turns and is heading your way, call your dog. You already know he/she is coming, right? Now they arrive and boom, you reward them. You should choose a word that is easy for you to remember when you are recalling the dog, Chet uses “come” with Sampson; I use “here” with Delilah, some people use “front.” Once you have the dog returning to you when you call, you want to find a word that will carry if your dog is a distance away from you, but will be easy for you to remember in an emergency or serious situation. One of the words that they used on the video was “Yahoo.” It is a great word because it really carries outside. I had also considered using, “NOW.”
Whenever I read or hear about a humane training method for dogs; I am all for it. So it was no surprise how anxious I was to get out on the trail with my dogs and see how it works. Chet had plans today and I had plans this morning, so it had to wait until this afternoon. It had been raining lightly on and off for most of the day, and the sky was really overcast. I figured it was a perfect time because there wouldn’t be a lot of people out today, so I should have no interruptions. I had plans to grab get my boots, grab a hat, my camera, and my half a pound of shredded Roast Beef and hit the trail for about an hour. Things didn’t go exactly as I had planned.
Before I let the dogs out of the car, I gave them each a tiny bit of the Roast Beef, then I opened the door and said, “free dog.” They took off at a run and I began the slow trek in, trouble is I forgot my boots and hat and as soon as we stepped onto the trail, it began raining. No problem, this is doable. The dogs are running and every time one of them turned back to me I would call them and get so excited when they were running towards me, then I would give them little bits of Roast Beef. You will be amazed at how many times your dog “checks in” with you when you give them Roast Beef.
We started up the hill into the field and it really started raining; the snow was soft and there were times I was sinking in, but I soldiered on, intent on getting my dogs to come to me whenever I called. The snow had actually totally melted in some spots and you could see grass; and puddles. I stepped in one; and soaked my sneakers, my glasses were covered in rain and water poured off my head, but still I was determined.
Finally the dogs got far enough away from me for me to try; I took some Roast Beef in each hand and as loud as I could I yelled “YAHOO!!!” Both heads snapped up, both dogs turned and both dogs RAN to me!!! Success!! I cannot wait to continue with this method, of course it means I will have to carry some food with me, but to me it is more important that my dog return when called, you never know when you will need a reliable recall.