TEACHING A DOG TO COME BACK.

These are reminder notes which are designed for dogs I have been out to where I have already worked with the dog and owner(s) and shown then how to play this game.

A very common complaint that I hear from owners is that my dog won't come back. Please don't just get a new puppy or maybe a rescue adult dog and let it off the lead and expect it to come back to you.

Depending on the dog and it's experiences it may well come back... BUT it's quite likely that all the owner sees is its backside disappearing into the sunset !

Dogs have to be TAUGHT to come back!

FIRST STAGE; THE WHISTLE GAME !

When using the whistle you don't need the clicker. You either use one or the other ...you don't need both!

What you want to teach your dog that the whistle is fun and means he will always get a reward e.g. either a tasty treat or a stroke and fuss on his return to you.

Teaching your dog to return when you blow a whistle can save your dog's life !

 

The reasons that the whistle is better than just using your voice to call your dog are;

a) The wind is so strong its taking your voice away and your dog can't hear you (especially here in Devon on the beach in winter!) The whistle can carry through the air much better than a voice.

b) if somebody else is walking your dog for you e.g. a friend or neighbour the dog will return to them.

c) the whistle shows no emotion, its always the same...the whistle doesn't panic or get angry!

 

Ideally, each family member should have their own clicker and whistle plus a spare set on the work surface in the kitchen where you prepare the dog's food.

An ordinary “referee's” type whistle works well. I sell these whistles for approx £2 each depending on the price I can buy them in bulk (I prefer not to use a “silent” dog whistle)

It's very easy...using this method the dog learns to come to both the spoken word “come” and also the whistle...belt and braces!

 

Ideally you need 2 people where possible. You will need a soft fleece harness (to protect it's neck ) and a soft padded lunge or long line about 25 feet long (which are available to purchase from me) and each person should have a whistle and very tasty treats like boiled sausage or chicken.

The people should stand a distance away from each other, one of them should have the long line attached around their body and the other end to the dog's harness. I normally attach the line to me by making a large loop which goes across my body from my right shoulder to my left hip.

 

This game can be started in the house/garden or outside in a quiet safe area. Be careful of young pups/dogs that you don't overdo this exercise as their young joints need to be protected.

 

One person should call the dog. Don't nag it, you want the dog to come on the first call or blow of the whistle not the 5th or 10th time !!....the aim is to call it once “Rover, come” ...using a happy voice, (you may need to do some "whoooo whoooing!") bend down a bit, showing the dog you have the tastytreat. If the dog doesn't come at first, you will need to lure it by going towards the dog, showing it the treat by putting it near its nose and lure it as you walk backwards and then blow the whistle as you give the dog the treat ( don't deafen or frighten it!)

Once the dog works out that you have tasty treats and when the dog runs to you, blow the whistle once...give it a treat when it gets to you. The other person does the same. The aim is to get the dog to run backwards and forwards between the 2 people. Only ever blow the whistle when the dog is actually running towards you.

 

To re-inforce the above method, when you feed your dog, every time you put your dog's food down on the ground AS SOON AS HIS MOUTH TOUCHES HIS FOOD blow the whistle ONCE (you may need to put something very very tasty on top of its usual food) Don't deafen or startle the dog...just an ordinary “peep”!)

The dog learns to associate the whistle with his dinner.

 

Once you have been doing this for some time (maybe 2 weeks) you need to test the dog to see if he knows what the whistle means. I call this “proofing” the whistle. This should be done in the house/garden. Again, this is best done with 2 people.

 Person number 1 has treats and whistle and quietly goes into another room or garden while person number 2 keeps the dog occupied. Person number 1 does not call the dog... but just blows the whistle!

 Person number 2 needs to watch the dogs behaviour. If the dog jumps to attention (thinks ..oh oh whistle !!!) and runs to find the whistle you know the dog understands what the whistle means. If the dog comes “flying” into the room looking for the person with the whistle, PRAISE and click and treat.

 Person number 2 then repeats the game. The aim is to get the dog to look for the person with the whistle.

 

Once he does this, continue the game and play hide and seek with the whistle game.

If he doesn't run to look for the person with the whistle then continue with the original exercise for another few weeks and then test him out again. Keep on until it works !

 

Don't ever blow the whistle when the dog is running away until you have proofed the whistle and that you know he knows what it means because if he doesn't return when you blow the whistle you are in danger of teaching him to ignore the whistle.

 

Once you have mastered this and your dog is good at returning to you both the exercise can then be carried out in safe secure area without the training line.

 

If your dog already comes back its still wise to play the whistle game to re-inforce its recall. Also, when your dog is actually running to you when he is loose, blow the whistle when he is on his way. Get the dog to chase you and then blow the whistle

when he is running after you. Give him a tasty treat or huge praise when he gets to you.