Recall Collapse?

Most puppies come with the basics of a recall. I said most not all, there are those independent models out there that learn very early on that the world has much to be discovered and they need to explore every inch of it

All puppies can be taught a brilliant recall, it is much easier if you start when they are young, but it is possible at any age.

That brilliant recall requires two basic things from you 1) the willingness to really get focused with what you are want and what you are currently doing and 2) the willingness to having at least one 5 minute session of daily fun with your dog — two or three would be ideal but one is necessary.

Ha! I bet you where thinking it required that four letter word w-o-r-k didn’t you. Nope, fun, that is how I got my brilliant recalls, it has got to be fun.  Work is play and play is work and unless you are enjoying what you are doing and your dog is enjoying what you are doing it is unlikely to end up brilliant!

Take this scenario, your dog is playing with a pack of dogs their own age, new people come to visit, how many of you could recall your dog away from that event?

Not too many right?  But remember I said most puppies do come with a pretty decent recall. When that puppy was 5 or  6 weeks old if he was playing with all his littermates (a pack of dogs his own age) and there where new people visiting (possibly you there to see the litter) and the breeder said “pup-pup-pup” I bet that same dog that won’t recall now did it perfectly back then right?

Why would they? Why do dogs do anything . . . it is simple; reinforcement.

Reinforcement builds behaviour. Somebody (like your breeder) started to say “pup pup” to the litter before she put the litter’s dish down at meal time or to get the litter to follow her in or out doors. Whatever it was (many times over) if the puppy comes when you call it as a wee one, it has been given reason to believe people are very reinforcing.

That is how it starts. So then, what causes Recall Collapse?  Aaaah that would be reinforcement once again.

Yes, all of the dogs out there, that have a brilliant recall, have been taught it with reinforcement. All of the dogs out there that have a crappy-doo recall have also being taught that with reinforcement.

It has nothing to do with being the “pack leader” or not physically correcting the dog enough. As a matter of fact, my dogs have never being physically corrected and definitely all have brilliant recalls.

The brilliantly trained dogs earned all of their reinforcement from their owner or trainer while the dog with the crappy doo recall earned a lot of reinforcement for NOT coming when called from his environment (chasing, sniffing, finding something to roll in etc)

So what about your dogs? Where has the value been for him? What distractions have been so reinforcing for your own dogs they are choosing them over you?  I really want to help so let me know what is distracting your dog?

Today I am grateful for another great group of campers here at Say Yes handling camps.

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