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How do I teach my dog to come to me no matter what?

I am in FL visiting a friend and will be house sitting for her for the next week or so. Well, I put her in the backyard with Mollie & my friend's dogs and when I went to check on them she was gone. It was after dark and Brenna will only come to me, she is terrified of strangers. She will even be skittish with me when really freaked out.

I finally got her back but it took me jumping out of the back of a moving truck. (ow) We were trying to pass her so I could jump out and call her but I could see she was about to dart into the woods again so I jumped out before my friend was full stopped. Luckily she came to me after hesitating for a second.

It was so scary losing her, I called and called and I know she could hear me, they have super hearing, but she didn't come until I was directly in front of her and lying on my road rashed butt on the ground. lol

Anyways, I want her to have a bullet proof recall. The only catch is that I will not use an e-collar on her. Part of the reason she is so screwed up is thanks to idiots incorrectly trying to train her with an e-collar.
 

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First off you can NEVER let her off lead until she HAS a 100% recall. Start with the best treats or toy (which ever motivates her) and a 6 foot leash in a distraction limited or free location. Have her sit and you walk to the end of the leash. Call her to you and reward lavishly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.

Same thing with a longer leash. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.

A longer leash. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.


Then start taking her around more distractions and back to the 6 foot leash and Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat. Gradually work up to the ultimate in distrations and leash length.

Coming to you must be the BEST thing in the world. If she regresses go back a step in the distraction category and work back up. Use ONE command, at this point a new command would probably be better since she has learned that she doenst need to listen to the current "command". I prefer "Here" because it carries better than "Come" over distance.
 

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Amaruq gave you some great advice, and I just want to second it. You can build an incredible amount of desired response by using high level rewards and making yourself be the best place in the world for your dog to be. I can personally attest to this - my two shepherds flushed a moose (bedded down in the alders so I didn't see it) just a few days ago and I called them BOTH back even though they wanted to pursue the moose. Their recalls have been taught with nearly 100% positive reinforcement. I fully expected Trick would respond (she's 11 and has a very strong bond with me) but the pup is not quite nine months old and this was the first time she encountered a moose. But they've both developed such a high level of response to the recall that I truly think they start turning to come back to me before they realize they're doing it.

I practice recalls every single day with Tazer (the youngster). If the weather is bad, I do it indoors. I throw a treat across the floor, then call her and either back away or run away and have her come racing back to me while I praise the entire time - and then greet her with either play (like tugging on a toy) or some great treats. I often toss the treats through (between) my feet so that she actually has to either run through my legs or reach through. This helps her learn to come all the way up to me and not stop out of reach like so many dogs do.

If you're in a secure fenced area outdoors, I highly recommend practicing off-leash once she's really understanding the concept of the rewards and coming to you quickly. But like Amaruq said, she needs to be on a long line if she's not dependable outside in a free area. Every time she gets away, she is probably reinforcing herself and that is definitely going to work against you.

Choosing a new command for this training is also a very valuable suggestion. I, too, use the command "HERE" for the recall training and to my dogs that means "come running back to me". I also train a formal "come" which means come and sit in front of me, but that's primarily for competition obedience and is not as motivating to the dog as just racing back to you and getting the rewards without having to sit or stay.

I have some steps for working on a recall game written out on my website, if you'd like to take a look at that. Go to http://www.kippsdogs.com/tips.html and click on the recall link.

One of the really great things about this breed is that they are truly responsive to positive reinforcement and they want to be with us for the most part. Developing that into a nice solid behavior just takes time, commitment and a belief in your dog. Good luck, and please let us know how the training goes!

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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The only other thing I can offer in addition to the great advice above, is to think about a hand/body signal to go along with your recall command--not to replace it, since the voice command is the most important. But at a long distance, or in a windy/noisy situation, you can get the dog to respond to a hand signal the same way as a voice command if they are learned together. My recall signal is both arms spread wide. If I make that gesture (even with no voice command), Luca comes running.
 

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I cant believe I forgot to include the part that YOU run away from your dog. This usually works best as soon as you give the verbal command and the INSTANT you see the dog look back at you. Turn and RUN away from your dog. Certainly if you are running towards something it HAS to be fun/good. Dogs are pack animals and they are prey animals. They will join you (their pack) in the hunt (whatever you as the leader are pursuing ir running towards).
 

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Our girl is 5 now and our boy is 4, they both have strong recalls but I still reinforce the recall frequently. I'll be in one end of the house and they'll be in the other and I'll call them to me and treat when they get there. Or I'll call them back in from the yard after a potty break. If you think about it, there are lots of opportunities to practice the recall and you probably can't overdo it. It's such an important (and potentially life-saving) command. It's already been said, but yes, make coming to you the best, most fabulous thing ever!
 

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I end every training session I do (outside of club) with at least five long recalls off of retrieves. With my female this has been happening for almost a year and a half now. It's a great way to "blow out" some energy and really gets her compelled to run to me as fast as she can when she gets a "here" command.
 

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Originally Posted By: Amaruq Call her to you and reward lavishly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.

Same thing with a longer leash. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.

A longer leash. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.
That's great.
 
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