We have been working his recalls very heavy lately. I (we, my family) view a recall as the most essential command our dogs should know. We don't settle for the average "things are quiet around the house, call the dog" and he comes. No, I don't consider that my dogs have a good recall until they are faced with the most amazing of distractions (squirrels, running deer, someone they love) and they can still respond and come to whomever called them. This takes time and many, many places and circumstances to train. I figured I would take a moment to comment on the skills that Tangle has to date.
This past weekend I took Tangle to the dog park. It is a 40 acre, unfenced dog park. I get there nice and early so that I can avoid the "but he just wants to play (while he is rolling your dog)" crowd. Everyone knows who I mean. We don't have the rest of the pack with us (it is easier to get a recall with the pups pack around). There are still plenty of distractions there however (dogs, rivers, smells).
I train my recalls two ways. The first is to just walk! Whenever the dog begins to venture off, act independent, I walk in the other direction. They eventually see that you are walking away and they come without a word. After doing this for 10 minutes or so with Tangle he kept a very good eye on me. THAT is exactly what I want to train. He needs to know that it is his responsibility to keep an eye on me and not loose me. I train this in many, many wide open spaces, on walks around the neighborhood, everywhere.
Next we worked on the actual come when I call. He was awesome. I pulled him off of dogs, good smells, and somebodies left over breakfast. Good boy!! I have also started to incorporate a whistle in the recall. I want him to come if I call or if I whistle. When he came, I heavily treat him. I want my dogs to know that there are always good things waiting for them when they come.
This morning we were training with another puppy. Several times they were chasing each other and I called Tangle off. He came every time! I was so proud of him.
Tangle still needs work on his recall, but we are getting there. He is challenged when he is over excited, the rest of his pack is running away from him, and probably other things I haven't discovered yet. But for 5 months, he has a better recall than most pet dogs for sure.