Training recall is tough with any dog – some breeds more than others – and, well, I think the Northern/Spitz-type breeds probably take the cake on this one. Ask most owners of a Shiba Inu what happens when they call their dog and they’ll tell you they get one of two looks from the little darling… either “F you. Try and catch me!” or “Why? What’s in it for me???”
This topic has come up 3 times in the past week. Once on a Shiba mailing list, once on the NYC Shiba Meetup message boards, and just now by email from a new reader of this blog. Since it is such a hot topic, I decided to post here about it also. Snick’s recall is fairly good – exceptional for a Shiba really. Here are a few things that helped get it that way.
How I Trained Snickers to Come on Command
- I have a life or death recall (“Snickers, COME!) and a common recall (“Come here Snick”). He knows the common recall is optional but the other is definitely not. This keeps me from “wearing out” his recall.
- He always, always gets yummy treats and happy praise when he responds to “Snickers, COME!” and I practice at random times so it isn’t just pattern trained.
- You should never give them the opportunity to fail when you train recall. Although I despise Flexi leads in the city, I started teaching him on a Flexi. I would let him get way ahead and then call him. If he didn’t turn back immediately, I would reel him in and then treat and praise. Be cautious in expanding their range. When I started doing it off leash, I started from about 3 feet away! First we did it at home and then at the dog run, but only when it was empty. I expanded the distance very gradually and waited until I was VERY confident before trying it with distractions. Add the distractions in slowly and always give big rewards.
- Don’t get in the habit of always using the life or death recall to make him leave fun things (like the dog run). Often, I will call Snick, treat and praise him, and let him go back to what he was doing. I want him to always feel like the reward for coming is greater than the potential for loss of freedom.
- Never, ever, EVER call them to you to punish or admonish them (even if they didn’t come the first time you called and you’re mad). If you need to correct your dog, go to him. The last thing you want is to teach your dog that he’s going to get in trouble when he responds to you!
That’s it. What are your experiences with training recall?