Questions, Concerns & Family

Posted on 07/12/10 18 Comments

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments on the blog. Lots of great questions as well in anticipation of the new e course. I am going to cover a few here today.

Many concerns from those of you that live alone and how are you going to do these restrained recalls without someone to hold the dog. I mentioned an easy way in the Restrained Recall presentation itself. I will leave you to go back and “find it.” I also posted another solution in the comments and that comes from Crate Games, there is a chapter in the DVD dedicated to doing restrained recalls from the Crate so be sure to check that out.

There was yet another great solution posted in the comments on the video itself, something I recommend as well, doing restrained recalls around a pole. We have even more games that make restrained recalls possible that will be rolled out in the e-course.

A few of you posted in your homework of “listing your A food rewards” that your dog loves all food equally. That does not fly with me, sorry. I know if I was to put down a tiny piece of dried kibble beside a 2″ chunk of steak I am pretty sure your dog will dive for the steak first. Get to know your dog and what are his drives and triggers in order to have the biggest impact on your training.

Question number four was; “Is a reliable recall possible with every breed?” I love the answer from Sylvia with her Inuit dogs so check that out in the comments section.

The answer to this question, in my opinion, is yes it is possible with every breed. Is it possible with every dog within every breed? Maybe not. If the history or reinforcement is strong enough to NOT always come when called and it has been building for many years then there is no way you will get something as reliable as a dog that has rarely made a poor choice throughout their entire lifetime!

Here is another way to look at that question; Do I think it is possible to dramatically IMPROVE the recall of every dog within every breed? My answer to that question is a confident, enthusiastic YES!

There was also many questions about what to use for recall cue. I made the suggestion of “Near-Me” as a great new recall word. If you aren’t comfortable with that, any simple sounding cue will work.

It was suggested that words like “Dinner” or “cookie” or “Go for a” . . (car ride, walk) would work for a new recall cue. The thing is, the reason these words now have value is because they have been followed up with the act of you delivering great value! Keep those triggers to mean what they mean today but condition a new word that is particular to your recall (that will be loaded up with great value through restrained recalls and the new e-course).

My family is still hanging around today. My two sisters and I are taking my brother Brent out to re-furnish is apartment. Brent, is learning disabled and lives on a fixed income pension but does have a Trust fund that was set up with the inheritance from my father’s estate. The thing is that Brent doesn’t like to spend his money! My father put me in charge of Brent’s Trust fund (crazy to put me in charge of money:)) and even though Brent has not bought anything new for his apartment in 25 years, he still doesn’t want to part with his cash!

With the help of my sisters we have convinced him to start today. New fridge, new bed, new dresser, new drapes are all on the agenda for shopping this morning! Wish us luck that Brent doesn’t pull a 180 on us!

Brent in the shades sitting beside Uncle Alvin, sister-in-law Pat and my brother Steve.

The family reunion was a blast. I was a bit naughty being a “gnome” weaselling my way into people’s photos as evident below — too much fun.

My sister Mary-Lynn and my uncle Alvin (everyone should have an uncle Alvin, he is a crack up!).

Brother Steve & his wife Pat (the gnome holding flowers:))

My brother Rob and his wife Grace.

The gnome posing with her handsome escort John.

Today I am grateful for time together with my family.


  1. Anne Corrigan says:
    Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 10:24am

    A question about restrained recalls: I train in an area where most of my training clients are elderly folks with young dogs. Requesting them to run is challenging and dangerous. how can the restrained recall still be used in a safe manner?


  2. Jane n Bobs says:
    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:05am

    The love and warmth shining out are
    wonderful values to transfer into our
    lives and training, thank you for
    sharing it with us.


  3. Marcy says:
    Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 3:29pm

    You said “I mentioned an easy way in the Restrained Recall presentation itself. I will leave you to go back and “find it.”

    Did you mean in the video presentation? Because I’ve watched it numerous times but haven’t found it yet… Or is it somewhere else?

    I also couldn’t find anything about a retrain around a pole in the comments on the video page.

    Just trying to find those suggestions because I seldom have someone available to restrain :=)


  4. Dianne Marshall says:
    Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 5:42pm

    I have found keeping eye contact on the recall is real important to my dog. If I look away to where I am running to soon or too long I look back to see a dog sitting nicely waiting for me. She will restart if I race back and forth and come flying up to me after a bit but not right away. I maintain eye contact the whole time. If I maintain eye contact as she starts out and only take a very quick glance where I am going there is no problem. This is only happens when when I don’t have a helper to hold the dog.


  5. Ann Hopp says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 11:16pm

    Susan, Your love of family and your dogs is what makes you stand out from the rest. Your unabashed love of both is refreshing and energizing. Your honesty in your dog training and in your life touch me. May Brent always have a Susan in his corner.


  6. Valerie says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 11:07pm

    Thanks so much for all the wonderful information Susan!

    For anyone else still looking for some recall cues (especially in my house where the big ones: Come/anything sounding with “here” are tainted) here are a few a friend and I have come up with:

    Tag (the one I’ll be using, because I just think of it as the game, which makes me smile and happy)

    Others: Now, Dash, Fast, Hurry, Race, Front, Back, Recall, Swift, Snap, Fly, and Zoom.

    Oh and well, the favorite amongst everyone… for laughs… Tacos! xD I put it as an example of one I didn’t want to use, but it amuses us all.

    And yeah, I know the cue isn’t important… but I wanted something that was short, something that when I yelled didn’t naturally sound horrible (I can’t seem to scream “Now!” even remotely pleasantly, so I figured it might not be the best one to use), one that would carry, one that I wouldn’t look a complete idiot over yelling and one that wasn’t used in day-to-day conversation.


    • Susan says:
      Monday, July 12, 2010 at 11:15pm

      Hey Valerie, thanks for the thoughtful input into recall cues! Great list!


  7. Katie Sundmacher says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 9:42pm

    Great Blog Susan. I met you a few years back at a small work shop that I was invited to audit… The rest is history, my training methods did a 180! Still trying to make it up to Canada one day! I am retraining by 7yr old Belgian his recall 🙂 Thank you for this great thread! Anyhoo enjoy family time and making great memories.


  8. mtrebino says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 6:35pm

    The Video was very helpful for me.. I had dynamite recalls with twist my 7 year old bc but have seen them loose some intensity recently..I had forgotten some of the tips that the video gave..Now with my new puppy I can really get to work on those recalls.. Thanks Susan..


  9. Sandi says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 6:12pm

    Great blog!

    We make a distinction between restrained recalls and self-restraint recalls like the ones in Crate Games or from a stay.


  10. Cindy Briggs says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 4:27pm

    what a great family to play with!!! Enjoy!


  11. Trudie says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 3:13pm

    You are amazing! If one thing makes me thrilled is watching my dog’s head whip around to me !

    I wonder if the doggie pleasure from the novel treat is equivalent to one of the world’s most rewarding activities: “Shop Until You Drop” ?!?

    If so, there are a lot of happy dogs out there!

    Be careful though, remember what happened to John Pinette, whose sister re-decorated his house — “Where’s my stuff!!”


  12. Marsha says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 1:57pm

    My kids are all raw fed and love to get “crunchy treats” – I think it’s because they are different than what they normally get. We have a dog bakery that makes great little kibble sized treats that the dogs love!

    Thanks again Susan for a wonderful blog and all the help!


  13. Dianne Marshall says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 1:12pm

    I have been trying many different treats this past few days to see what has the greatest reaction. Spam seems to be the hot item right now but steak isn’t far behind. Salmon was great but I am out of it. Time to go fishing! I have been cleaning out the freezer trying all sort of stuff.

    I have been doing restrained recalls when I get help and I love how explosive they are. I have been doing them from the crate and from a sit or down and they are good but nothing like hold the dog. They do improve from a sit or the crate when following a session when I was able to get a helper to restrain the dog.

    I was real excited when I was able to be over 100 feet away calling from a restrained recall. I was waiting for the dog to get closer before I ran, then the neighbor dogs came run and barking to the fence as my dog was starting out. She came right to me with only a quick glance at them as she grabbed the toy I presented as running. I was real happy.

    The speed of that puppy is amazing, someone put rockets on those little paws. When we go out and I say “potty time” she rockets to her spot. I don’t always do that, we also walk over nice on a leash sometimes too.

    So many things to work on with a little puppy. I set up a plan for the day and each session has a focus so we do something different. The favorite toy is wearing out. Just in time grandma sent a box full of new tug type toys and maybe there will be a new favorite in there.

    No matter the treat or toy my attitude is the most important part of the reward.Looking forward to the e-class.

    Oh Yeah, My drapes are over 25 years old too. Maybe it is time……


  14. Soraya R says:
    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 12:18pm

    It is hard to believe that any dog would choose kibble over steak, but this actually happened to me — to my great surprise — a couple of weeks ago.

    Since the snow melted and weather turned nice up here in the far north where I live, I started morning backyard training sessions with my pups. For these sessions, I used what I consider to be their “A list” food rewards — steak, chicken breast, cubed cheese, smoked salmon, microwaved hot dogs. After a little over a month, I noticed that my boy’s (3 yr old American Eskimo) enthusiasm for these sessions was diminishing. But he was still as eager as ever for his bowl of kibble. So, one morning when he was particularly unenthusiastic to work for steak, I tried an experiment. I brought out his bowl of kibble, and put it in the spot where I keep my training food rewards. He was instantly energized, and worked as hard as I’ve seen him work — for KIBBLE!! (I continued the experiment, and he did the same for another “C” reward, Charlee Bears.) Go figure!

    All of this sets up my question: how do you account for the effects of novelty or overuse (or a value hierarchy that constantly changes) in formulating or choosing from your “A list”? I don’t think that my dog actually values kibble over steak as an absolute (but maybe I’m wrong). My guess is that because I was using steak fairly often as a reward he became bored with it, and so his value hierarchy on that day was different. (This dog is the same way with bully sticks, and some toys –if he hasn’t had one for a while, he’ll run out and offer his entire repertoire of tricks for one, but the next day he won’t take it when offered.)

    So far my plan for addressing this is to make that list of A rewards as long as possible, and constantly change up what I’m using so we don’t fall into a rut (as it was I was switching up between 5 or 6 different food rewards; for this dog I may need to have 10 or more regular A list food rewards, and never use the same reward for two sessions in a row). There will be a lot of frozen treats in my freezer! But I would appreciate any more ideas for dealing with this, and on what to do where it may be difficult to anticipate which reward will be an A reward on a given day.


    • veronica says:
      Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 4:07am

      I have been training and incorperatining all Susan’s sugestions/lessons re “reinforcement”and what a powerful too.,If you get the ” recipe right”
      Now my dog works for the most boring Kipple.I have interpreted this as being ” a transfer of value”Some how my dog seems really keen to work for me so It must be that I now have value.
      If this is so I am delighted……a light bulb moment.
      thankyou heaps Susan ..this stuff is so addictive.


      • Marlane says:
        Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 10:55am

        Veronica, I’m new to this site but you are so correct…..this whole thing is addicting and exciting. Susan, your information is fantastic and I am very excited to “inhale” all I can from you. Thank you for providing us with such great years of experience and insight.

    • Esther H says:
      Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 6:43am

      I noticed that my dog’s interest in toys changes over time. His tennis ball is his favorite right now, but wasn’t for a while. Also noticed that toys that I don’t use often have higher value than those used regularly. Guess that as with our behavior, food rewards and toys, being unpredictable is very important. As soon as what will come is a surprise but an A value surprise, the dog stays motivated. If the reaction (our behaviour, food or toy) is always the same, the dog will weight out the interest of coming towards doing something else.
      At least my A list of food and toys is not static. some things will move up in value, some will move down over time. Guess we have to continue observing our dog’s reaction.


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