I wanted to thank the people on this forum who have mentioned emergency recall training, because it made me realize how important it could be and I have started it with my dogs. I thought it was worthy of a new discussion all on its own.

For those not familiar (and I wasn't til I read it here), we all know what "come" means, and have dogs with varying levels of compliance to the command. Even if your dog is pretty good, would it come if it was chasing a squirrel towards a busy road, or face-to-face with a skunk, or if you found yourself holding an empty leash and collar at a busy interstate rest stop? Some of us who have done lots of obedience might honestly say "yes", but for many others (myself included) the honest answer is "Not sure" or "Probably not."

So emergency recall is a different word, not the normal "come" command, that you train with high and constant reinforcement, and then never use to get your dog to come in from playing, or come over to you for petting or brushing. Only for reinforcement, and if you need it, for emergency. Unlike other commands where you wean off the treat rewards and get your dog to just respond for praise, you will ALWAYS use high-value food rewards for this command to keep your dog's motivation so high that he will literally stop anything else he's doing, no matter how exciting, to come back to you.

The gist of it is that you show the dog a very high-value treat and use your recall word excitedly, then give the treat when the dog makes contact with you. The high-value treat should be something your dog never, ever gets except for this training.

We are working on this now. Our recall word is, creatively enough "recall" (you need a word that you wouldn't usually use around your dog). The rewards are things my dogs never normally get; we are alternating between cut-up bits of hot dogs, and Bil -Jac liver treats. Pardon me if your dog gets these regularly, but they are actually kinda gross. LOL They smell very strong, which is what makes them appealing for this exercise, and they do have sugar in them, which I usually avoid, but I wanted something the dogs would drool for.

It took my dogs two sessions to strongly associate the treat with the word. After three days (only one practice per day, as the treats I'm using are not real healthy), I could yell "Recall recall recall!" and they'd come running from another room, full speed. I make them come all the way to me, but don't add another obedience command at the end like "sit" because I want their excitement to remain high and focused on the word.

After just one week, I was comfortable enough with the response that I was ready to test it. I sent my husband in the living room with some Charlie Bear treats. The dogs followed, and they were focused and excited enough about the Charlie Bear treats that Jack was saying "Aaa-rooo!" at him. He held them but did not give them, then I called "Recall recall!" from the kitchen and they both left my husband and his lousy plain ordinary treats and came flying, eyes shining and ears forward.

My next step is to try it outside in an open field. Then I want my husband to work with them too, so they'll do it for either of us.

A word of warning, though: your dog may make some rapid strong associations that you are not expecting. I was keeping the cut-up hot dog in the fridge in a sandwich bag. They only had hot-dog as the treat on three days.

Well, yesterday I went to get some grapes out of the fridge and they were in a sandwich bag. I opened the fridge door, rustled the sandwich bag.... and heard the sound of two stampeding Corgis who seconds before were asleep on the couch. Oi! That just goes to show that if the reinforcement is rewarding enough to the dog, they can learn a very strong association in just 3 sessions that last only a few seconds each. And then we all wonder how they pick up bad habits so quickly!! LOL

Anyway, I am so glad I learned about this training and strongly encourage it as something all dogs should know, as it could one day save their life (or save them from a snout full of porcupine quills).

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Yes, I realized when Jack was about a year old that I had unintentionally taught him that the command "sit" actually meant "come over to me and then sit by my feet." Actually, that is what "sit" means for the vast majority of dogs who are not either working or competing in formal obedience. We worked very hard at getting him to understand that "sit" meant "your butt hits the ground in the location you are already in." This is actually VERY hard to train and needs regular work to reinforce, and we have not practiced much recently. The farthest we have done in a long time is across a room, and even then I have to remind him that "good boy" does not mean "so come over and see me."

Once he does the long-distance sit, I then change the command to "stay" to keep him on the spot. Once Maddie gets a little better at "sit" I will need to do the distance work with her, too.

Thank you for bringing that up, because now I know to practice that too! Of course the ideal situation is to not let the dog run out the front door to begin with.....
Thanks for the information!!! Very valuable !


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