German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
812 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Okay, the other post about recalls shifted quickly into an e-collar discussion, which is great (I use one too). If you want to discuss e-collars (pro or con), please see http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=571627&page=1#Post571627.

Let's hear from those who have achieved reliable recalls using purely positive methods only. That means zero use of e-collars, prongs, leash/long-line corrections, or harsh words or any other aversives. It can mean +r (rewards/motivation) and -p (withholding rewards, not opening doors, etc.).

I would love to see a discussion of the method by those who have had success with it. How did you achieve it? Nuts and bolts details please.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,155 Posts
we started from the week we brought mikko home. my boyfriend and i stood in the backyard about 10 feet from each other. we each had treats. i called "mikko come" in a very fun and upbeat voice and clapped my hands when he came, i gave him treats and lots of verbal and physical praise. then my boyfriend would do the same. we practiced this almost every day for short 5-10 minute sessions.

we also tried to make ourselves the most fun things around. so everytime he came up to us on his own we gave him lots of praise.

at home, we would hide behind trees when he wasn't looking, and he would go crazy finding us. when we started taking him off leash at parks we would do the same.

at the same time as all of this, we also were doing obedience training and teaching a good stay, then walking away (first only a few feet, then further and further, and then eventually up to 50+ feet and calling him to us)

we also taught voluntary attention when he was just starting out. everytime he looked at us, he got a treat. then we took that to everytime we called his name and he looked at us, he got a treat.

to continue to make the recall fun, we sometimes instead of treats, throw a stick or ball as his reward for coming. its also important to make the recall not equal fun is over time, so sometimes at the park (dog parks or any park) we call him over just to throw a stick for him. other times, we would call him out of playing with a dog, reward, then send him back to play. this is very important so they do not associate recalls with no more fun.

another thing we did was never call him more than twice without him coming. if i called him and he didn't come right away, i'd go get him. i never wanted the word "come" to lost its meaning.

we also take him to parks that have lots of squirrels. we play a game where i call out where the squirrels are (if he doesn't see them first) sometimes i let him chase them all the way to the tree then i call him back to me. sometimes, i call him in the middle of a chase and make sure when he turns around and comes back to me that i give him lots of praise and i also continue to let him chase more squirrels.

the biggest thing was making "come" positive and working up the recall in new situations. we started in the backyard and worked up to parks with minimal distractions, then parks with more distractions, dog parks, parks with squirrels, etc. also, we always practiced in safe areas, so if he decided to ignore us (which never happens) it wouldn't cost him his safety. now, i can take him off leash in many, many areas and completely trust him.

its continuous training, even though he always comes to me, i still always give him a lot of praise for doing so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,520 Posts
I've done the same as I_LOVE_MY_MIKKO, but also incorporated the long leash training (the leash will decreasing in lenght over time). I've used several types of rewards next to very special treats, depending on the dog. My Lab for example was rewarded when recalled off a rabbit chase by digging up a mouse hole (she absolutely loves that!). The reward must always be better, way more exciting than what the dog is experiencing and going for at the moment and should aways vary so the dog doesn't know what to expect. And you need to practice, practice and practice some more. Timing for the recall is most essential as is having a strong bond based on mutual trust with your dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
812 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I never thought of finding squirrels for my dog. What an interesting idea. Now I'm glad I asked this question. I'll see if I can surprise Dynamo on my next outing.
Thank you for the really big nuts and bolts answers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
24,301 Posts
I would also like to say I think it depends on the dog. This being a GSD board, I am thinking that even with the high prey drive, you can use the focus of the breed to help.

I say that because I would never let my Schip mix off lead, even with an e-collar attached to his package!
It's a breed trait and most breeders require a fenced yard for them. He could do the Level 3 (distraction) classes CGC/TDI, but outside...I just don't trust him.

With another dog (Ava) I have I can't even test a true recall, because she will not move from the shadow of my hind end! I have to do a down stay recall because otherwise, she's right next to me. Such a difference in dogs! I use her to anchor him so he can kind of have an off leash experience (sadly not much of one for him because she doesn't go far). I did a recall with her today for fun in the yard and almost got knocked on my can!


So I think that there has to be consideration for the dog-or I could be wrong! Perhaps if I covered myself in meat sauce my Schip mix might consider me more interesting than long dead rodent odors.
But I would still not use a negative on him because like a Schip, he's pretty sensitive/easily offended or hurt by harsh corrections. Seriously!

For training it starts in obedience. The recalls I have trained have been on older puppies-6 months or more-but where I like to take them has us leave them with the trainer, and then they are able to anticipate getting back to you. You get on the floor on your knees, leaning back to pull the dog in, not push them away by leaning toward them. Treat or no treat (I like to treat) high pitched voice, dog's name COME! Expand distance and distractions as you work through the levels inside. Then move outside on lead(concurrently), then outside off lead as the dog proves readiness.

Outdoors I use a guide phrase-far enough (not sure if that's a negative) and call them back for something really great-a treat, a chance to chase me, whatever. I think Melinda and Jay use a touch command to call theirs back in.

I am constantly proofing and the minute that a dog shows that it cannot be reliable we go back to step one and move through the early steps as quickly as possible to get to reliability. I will not take a chance though if I don't think a dog can handle it.

I have also used a guide dog to show a younger dog how to do a good recall. I do want to caution people not to do this unless you are fast enough to jump over the long line when they come at you SO fast and on opposite sides...or you will end up getting clotheslined...yeah...not sure how I know this.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,125 Posts
Originally Posted By: JeanKBBMMMAANI have also used a guide dog to show a younger dog how to do a good recall. I do want to caution people not to do this unless you are fast enough to jump over the long line when they come at you SO fast and on opposite sides...or you will end up getting clotheslined...yeah...not sure how I know this.
OMG!!!!
(With you, not at you.
)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,415 Posts
I don't know if a dog can be reliably trained with a "purely positive" method - even a simple "eht" is considered a correction, so I can't ever say I train purely positively (the semantics gets really confusing at times, I know).

I look at the two shepherds I have now, however, and I've trained their recalls using probably 90-95% positive reinforcement. I use the recall game I have on my website for starters (http://www.kippsdogs.com/recalls.html) and I try hard to really observe my dogs and to understand what motivates each dog. And I try to start as young as possible - off-leash recalls at eight weeks if I can - and then I practice and practice and reinforce and laugh and play and just plain enjoy my dogs. When they know I enjoy them, they enjoy coming to me.

I also use my older dogs to help train my younger dogs. Tazer immediately took to Trick (who is the most tolerant dog I've ever seen) and since Trick is so reliable I could call her and Tazer would follow her in - and there would be lots of praise as they ran to me and lots of treats and/or toy play once they reached me. It took only a couple of days before Tazer was spinning around to run to me before Trick could react.

I don't ever stop reinforcing my dogs for their prompt recalls. It doesn't mean I always have to carry treats, although I often do by choice. I want to be able to go out with several dogs off-leash and have them all respond to me without worrying about leashes or long lines or shock collar transmitters. So, just like any job, they continue to get paid as long as they continue to do their work. For the shepherds, this may mean throwing a stick or a snowball .. *L* .. they're VERY easy to reinforce compared to the chows.

Jean, if you do the whole meat-sauce routine, PLEASE have someone videotape it and put it on youtube! *LOL*

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
812 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I've been to purely positive classes, so I know there are people who train this way, (and you are not allowed to say 'no' or anything negative to your dog), a 'no reward marker' is allowed, but that simply means 'no treat coming', it doesn't mean you are displeased with your dog. What I'm not sure of, is how often this gains reliability in a woodland setting. I find it interesting to read about success with this method, as it didn't work for me.
I did use similar methods (excepting finding squirrels and mouseholes for my dog!), it's just that I didn't get reliability with a purist approach.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,415 Posts
I've done some purely positive training myself - in fact, started Trick on it when she was eight weeks old and I didn't use "no" for probably six months. By six months old, she could do a competition level heel, had a beautiful recall under most situations, did a wonderful straight retrieve with a sit in front, and would even retrieve over a (very low) jump. She was incredible. But there did come a point where she gained more independent thought - around the "teenage" stage - and I brought in some corrections to deal with that. They were mostly verbal, although in all honesty she had to learn that a verbal "no" MEANT something .. *L* .. she really didn't have any fear of even a verbal correction since she'd not been taught that way.

Trick was the first dog I started in +R training from the beginning. Up to then, I had been a more compulsion-based trainer and had crossed over and re-trained some of my dogs with more positive methods. But with Trick, I wanted to see what I could do using all +R. I really liked what I saw, but just wasn't able to make it past her bratty stage. However, without the use of shock or prong, she learned to be reliable enough that I can take her out even with a moose nearby and she responds to me (moose and caribou are SO tempting to chase). Other than times of necessity - at dog shows or going somewhere that a leash is required - I haven't put a leash on her in probably eight years. She's nearly 12 now. Unfortunately she's getting a bit deaf. On the good side, she's so bonded to me that she rarely gets far away and she was taught from a young age that part of her job was to always be aware of where I am, and to stay near me. One of the ways I did that was to do a lot of walking on very quiet back roads (easy to find up here) and then if she got a bit ahead of me, I would quickly hide behind a bush (where I could watch her reaction). She'd turn to look for me, and then come tearing back to find where I'd gone. It didn't take much of that and she was soon spending more time very close to me .. *L* ..

Another really great behavior I taught her when we were doing all that walking (I spent a summer on a huge health kick when she was a year old, walked 32 miles a week). Occasionally a car would come by on the back road and when I heard a car, I'd call Trick to my side and have her do a heel while the car passed. As soon as the car was up to us, I'd praise lavishly, smiling down at Trick, and then give several treats and release her after the car passed. She soon learned to run to heel position when SHE heard a car. Since her hearing was better than mine, there were times that she'd run to heel before I realized a car was coming.

I'm still so impressed with this dog - everyone should have a Trick in their lives. She taught me so much about trust. And I think that starting her out with so much positive training was part of the key to that. Her level of trust in me was so high and it carried over.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
I agree. I think to have truly reliable recall the dog has to understand that there is no option available for refusing to come. As stated earlier, the reward always has to be greater than the distraction. To me that always leaves the possibility for the dog to figure, "Ya know, I'm really not that hungry right now but I really would like to get my teeth on that darned cat!" Some manner of correction has to be applied for refusal. If you simply go get the dog without him knowing of your displeasure, who's training whom?
I'd rather have my dog thinking, "I gotta go back, Dad get's his feelings hurt if I don't come when he calls and gripes at me about it. Plus, I'm gonna end up back there anyway."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,649 Posts
Although I do give verbal corrections like, "Eh, eh" I believe the purely positive recall is the absolute only way to go. I have watched the difference between a dog coming back to a person when they know they're going to get in trouble (really slow movement) and a dog who has only ever gotten a good response (really fast movement). I've been training Rafi to come to my whistle. When he comes he gets a really yummy treat. I have him off leash a lot with many distractions. Today we were at the park in a fenced in area and he was playing with dogs. There was one who didn't like him and tried to pick a fight. Later he was playing with a different dog but the dog that didn't like him came back into the fenced in area. I whistled and he stopped playing with the other dog (he was at the far side of the baseball field from where I was) and raced back to me. He looked like he had been shot out of a canon. The other people were just standing there with their mouths hanging open. Did the same thing the other night when he was chasing a bunny. I work with him on it every single day.

And I have a similar story to Melanie's. All of my dogs are trained to sit at corners. Chama has been with me since she was 5 weeks old. I start that corner training immediately. A couple of years ago Chama and Basu were off lead in a huge park here in Buffalo. A bunny shot out in front of us and off they went, straight towards the street. Chama has the highest prey drive of any dog I have ever seen. She literally loses her mind when things run past her. She will chase something for miles in the woods. But this bunny ran into the street. And Chama stopped at the curb, without me being anywhere near her, and did not go into the street.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,184 Posts
Chris,

I think you should check out training in prey drive. You'd be surprised at how effective it can be. The tug or ball in my hand IS a cat that they WILL sink their teeth into, and when you train that way for the proper amount of repetitions your dog is just compelled to fly to you when called. It's a collaborative effort, not bribing or begging.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,184 Posts
Originally Posted By: BowWowMeowAlthough I do give verbal corrections like, "Eh, eh" I believe the purely positive recall is the absolute only way to go. I have watched the difference between a dog coming back to a person when they know they're going to get in trouble (really slow movement) and a dog who has only ever gotten a good response (really fast movement).
This sounds like poorly timed corrections, or correcting AFTER the dog finally comes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16,649 Posts
Originally Posted By: ZeusGSD
Originally Posted By: BowWowMeowAlthough I do give verbal corrections like, "Eh, eh" I believe the purely positive recall is the absolute only way to go. I have watched the difference between a dog coming back to a person when they know they're going to get in trouble (really slow movement) and a dog who has only ever gotten a good response (really fast movement).
This sounds like poorly timed corrections, or correcting AFTER the dog finally comes.
I was responding to Chris's comments above. Most people yell at their dog and still expect them to come running back to them. I hear more people screaming at their dog to get over here so they can kick their you know what...so the dog comes slowly because they know their owner is not pleased. And I know we live in very different worlds. My dogs and I are around people and off leash dogs all the time. And sometimes off leash dogs without owners...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,415 Posts
Originally Posted By: BowWowMeow I work with him on it every single day.
This is something that I think is SO important about the whole concept of a reliable recall. To build reliability you really need to practice a LOT - not once a week at a dog class, not just under times when the dog happens to run off, etc. It needs to be a structured exercise that is done on a daily basis and gradually built to the point where the dog has an ingrained habit of coming when called.

I used verbal corrections on Trick and on Tazer too, but nearly all of their recall has been positive and they have been SO good. Tazer still needs some work around moose but I kind of have to wait until the moose provide the distraction .. (hard to schedule them in!) .. *L*. And when a moose does show up at a time when I can get her out, I'll put her on a long line and we'll practice recalls with the moose at a distance, using the best possible rewards I can think of (based on what SHE finds motivating) and we'll gradually work closer.

In the meantime we practice recalls EVERY day. I throw a toy for her over and over EVERY day and reward her when she returns to me. I play recall games in the house and I call her out of playtime with the other dogs and I reward that EVERY day. I have to spend time with her anyhow, so why not spend it doing things that are going to benefit us both? And it does my heart good to see this eight month old pup spin on her haunches and enthusiastically race back to me just with a simple command. She doesn't take the time to think about it, she just DOES it. That's what repetition and reward help to teach a dog.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top