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Training - Recall and Focus help needed

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Wayne01, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. Wayne01

    Wayne01 PetForums Member

    Sep 13, 2013
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    Hi All.

    I am currently working well with alfie and he is working really hard.

    I am using Clicker and Treat based training (Anything from liver and chicken to hot dog sausages)

    The issue i have at the moment is his recall and focus.

    when it is just him and me he is fine as soon as he scents another dog or person he focuses entirley on them and will not recall - heel to me at all.

    I know it is not his fault and I am just wondering how i work around this.


    Wayne and Alfie (Doberman x Pointer 9months old)
  2. Fluffster

    Fluffster Crazy for cockers

    Aug 26, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I think first you need to try recall from dogs or people in the home before trying outside.

    Eg. Have someone come in the door and ignore Alfie entirely when he rushes up to them. Use your recall word - if Alfie doesn't come, use anything you can to get him back, but DON'T repeat the recall word - it should only be used ONCE. Try shaking treats, silly noises, rolling on the floor etc (you might look silly doing this but who cares!) When he does (which he will in the end if the person is ignoring him), reward him and give him treats. Repeat over the course of a week or so.

    When he's able to recall from a person who ignores him reliably, change it so the person he greets is friendly towards him UNTIL you say the recall word. Then the person should start ignoring him again and again, get him to come back to you any way possible.

    I'd recommend getting the book Total Recall, the above techniques are from that and there's a section about recalling from dogs too.
  3. Wayne01

    Wayne01 PetForums Member

    Sep 13, 2013
    Likes Received:
    In the home and in private his recall is good

    his recall is good when other people are around in the home and garden it is just when he sees other people/dogs on a walk / training session outside home / garden
  4. Cleo38

    Cleo38 PetForums VIP

    Jan 22, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I think the problem is that you are going from the garden (low distractions) to outside with other dogs (high distractions) - you need to build up to this gradually.

    Start training sessions as far away from other people & dogs as you can. Start right back at the beginning again, as if you haven't done any training as this is a new environment so will be difficult for him to focus.

    Do not let him run up to people as the more he practices this behaviour, the more he will do it. Get him interested in a toy, take him out & play with him so you are the best thing around. Have short training sessions & make them fun, make the games part of the training. Don't free feed, make sure he's hungry & use his bit's of his meals as rewards, a hungry dog can be incredibly focused at times!
  5. Wayne01

    Wayne01 PetForums Member

    Sep 13, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ok im not totally clear I use a specific area I found for training and very few people use it when im there
    0500hrs and at night.

    Its only odd people who turn up
  6. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

    Oct 19, 2011
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    Why can’t I get a reliable recall?

    ‘Come’ is no harder to train than any other behaviour but in real life it has a huge number of criteria that have to be raised one at a time in order to guarantee success.

    Often when puppies are brought home to their new owners this is the first time they have ever been separated from their dam and siblings and so they naturally attach themselves to their new family by following them about everywhere. Owners find this quite attractive and wrongly assume that this trait will continue into adolescence/adulthood, whatever the circumstances. A dangerous trap to fall into…

    At some point in time, usually from around 6 – 10 months, depending on the individual, “Velcro” dog will morph into “Bog off” dog (this is especially true of a breed that has been developed to exhibit a high degree of initiative). This is the time when owners suddenly realize that their dog will not recall when it sees another dog/person etc. Not only is this inconvenient but potentially dangerous as the dog could be at risk of injury from a car/train/another dog etc.

    How and when do I start with a puppy?

    My advice is to prepare for this inevitability from the day you take your puppy home. If you are lucky the breeder will have started this process whilst still in the nest by conditioning the puppies to a whistle blown immediately before putting the food bowl down during weaning.

    Dogs learn by cause and effect ie sound of whistle = food. If you, the new owner, continue this from the moment your puppy arrives you will lay down strong foundations for the future.

    By using the whistle in association with meals/food you need to establish the following criteria:

    • Come from across the room.
    • Come from out of sight
    • Come no matter who calls
    • Come even if you are busy doing something else
    • Come even if you are asleep.
    • Come even if you are playing with something/someone else
    • Come even if you are eating

    Once this goal has been realized in the house, drop all the criteria to zero and establish the same measures, one at a time, in the garden.

    Once this goal has been realized in the garden, drop all the criteria to zero and establish the same measures, one at a time, in the park/field etc.

    To train this, or any other behaviour:

    1. Make it easy for the dog to get it right
    2. Provide sufficient reward

    Do not expect a dog to come away from distractions in the park until you have trained it to come to you in the park when no diversions are around. Be realistic and manage your expectations; your sphere of influence/control over your dog may be only 20m to begin with, therefore do not hazard a guess that the dog, at this level of training, will successfully recall from 50m or more away. Distance, like every other criterion, must be built up over time.

    Some simple rules to follow when training the recall:

    • Whistle/signal/call only once (why train the dog to deliberately ignore your first command?)
    • Do not reinforce slow responses for the dog coming eventually after it has cocked its leg, sniffed the tree etc (you get what you train!)
    • If you know that the dog will not come back to you in a certain situation, go and get him rather than risk teaching him that he can ignore you. (If you have followed the programme correctly you will never put your dog in a position to fail).
    • Practise recalling the dog, putting him on the lead for a few seconds, reinforce with food/toy etc and immediately release the dog. Do this several times during a walk etc so that the dog does not associate a recall with going on the lead and ending the walk or being put on the lead with the cessation of fun.
    • Eventually, when the behaviour is very strong, alternate rewards ie verbal praise, physical praise, food, toy and also vary the “value” of the rewards, sometimes a plain piece of biscuit, sometimes a piece of cooked liver etc so that you become a walking slot machine (and we all know how addictive gambling can be)!

    In my experience recall training should be consistent and relentless for the first two years of a dog’s life before it can be considered truly dependable. You should look on it as a series of incremental steps, rather than a single simple behaviour, and something that will require lifelong maintenance.

    What about an older or rescue dog?

    Follow the same programme as outlined above however for recalcitrant dogs that have received little or no training, I would recommend dispensing with the food bowl and feeding a dog only during recalls to establish a strong behaviour quickly.

    Your training should be over several sessions a day, which means you can avoid the risk of bloat. It is essential that the dog learns that there will be consequences for failure as well as success.

    Divide the day’s food ration up into small bags (between10 – 30), if the dog recalls first time, it gets food, if it does not, you can make a big show of saying “too bad” and disposing of that portion of food (either throw it away or put aside for the next day).

    Again, raise the criteria slowly as outlined in puppy training.

    Hunger is very motivating!

    For those of you who believe it unfair/unhealthy to deprive a dog of its full daily ration, not having a reliable recall is potentially life threatening for the dog ……………

    How do I stop my dog chasing joggers/cyclists/skateboarders/rabbits/deer?

    Chasing something that is moving is a management issue. Do not put your dog in a position where it can make a mistake. Again you need to start training from a pup but if you have already allowed your dog to learn and practise this behaviour you may need to rely on a trailing line until your dog is desensitised to these distractions and knows that listening to you results in a great reinforcement. Chasing is a behaviour much better never learned as it is naturally reinforcing to the dog, which makes it hard for you to offer a better reinforcement. If you want to have a bombproof recall while your dog is running away from you then use the following approach:

    Your goal is to train so that your dog is totally used to running away from you at top speed, and then turning on a sixpence to run toward you when you give the recall cue.

    You need to set up the training situation so that you have total control over the triggers. For this you will need to gain the co-operation of a helper. If you have a toy crazy dog you can practice this exercise by throwing a toy away from the dog towards someone standing 30 or 40 feet away. At the instant the toy is thrown, recall your dog! If the dog turns toward you, back up several steps quickly, creating even more distance between the you and the toy and then throw another toy in the opposite direction (same value as one thrown)..

    If the dog ignores you and continues toward the thrown object, your “helper” simply picks the ball up and ignores dog. When dog eventually returns (which it will because it’s getting no reinforcement from anyone or anything), praise only. Pretty soon the dog will start to respond to a recall off a thrown toy. You will need to mix in occasions the toy is thrown and the dog is allowed to get it ie you do NOT recall if you want to make sure it does not lose enthusiasm for retrieving.

    For the food obsessed dog, you can get your helper to wave a food bowl with something the dog loves in it and then recall the dog as soon as you let it go to run towards the food; again if the dog ignores you and continues to the food, your helper simply ensures the dog cannot access the food and start again. (It is extremely important that the helper does not use your dog’s name to call it for obvious reasons).

    Gradually increase the difficulty of the recall by letting the dog get closer and closer to the toy/food. Praise the moment the dog turns away from the toy/food in the early stages of training. Don't wait until the dog returns to you; the dog must have instant feedback.

    Once the dog is fluent at switching directions in the middle of a chase, try setting up the situation so that it is more like real life. Have someone ride a bike/run/skate past. (It is unrealistic to factor in deer/rabbits however if your training is thorough the dog will eventually be conditioned to return to you whatever the temptation in most contexts).

    Until your training gets to this level, don't let the dog off-lead in a situation in which you don't have control over the chase triggers. Don't set the dog up to fail, and don't allow it to rehearse the problem behaviour. Remember, every time a dog is able to practise an undesirable behaviour it will get better at it!

    Most people do not play with toys correctly and therefore the dog is not interested in them or, if it gets them, fails to bring it back to the owner.

    Play the two ball game, once you have a dog ball crazy. Have two balls the same, throw one to the left, when the dog gets it, call him like crazy waving the next ball; as he comes back throw the other ball to the right and keep going left right so that YOU are the centre of the game and the dog gets conditioned to return to you for the toy. Once this behaviour is established you can then introduce the cues for out and then make control part of the game ie the game is contingent on the dog sitting and then progress to a sequence of behaviours.
  7. smokeybear

    smokeybear PetForums VIP

    Oct 19, 2011
    Likes Received:

    Line Training for Dogs
    By Monika Gutman

    Chase! Managing Your Dog's Predatory Instincts
    By Clarissa Von Reinhardt

    Stop! How to control predatory Chasing in Dogs
    by David Ryan

    Teach your Dog to Come When Called
    By Erica Peachey

    Teach your Dog to Come when Called
    By Katie Buvala

    Training your Dog to Come When Called
    By John Rogerson

    Total Recall
    By Pippa Mattinson


    Line Training for Dogs
    By Monika Gutman

    Really Reliable Recall
    By Leslie Nelson

    Training the Recall
    By Michael Ellis

    Your clever dog: Getting your dog to come when called
    By Sarah Whitehead

    Does your dog whizz back to you as soon as you call his name?

    Can you call him to you even when there are other dogs or distractions? Teaching your dog to come to you when you call is the cornerstone of training and the gateway to allowing him more freedom in the park.

    If your dog has selective deafness, ignores you in the garden or the park, or would rather play with other dogs than come when you call, this specially designed training session is for you.

    Ideal for starting out with puppies or rehomed dogs, and also for dogs that ignore you or are slow to come when called, despite previous training.

    • How to know what’s rewarding for your dog and what’s not
    • Five times when you shouldn’t call your dog!
    • Using your voice to call versus using a whistle
    • What to do if you call and your dog doesn’t come to you
    The pack contains: A clicker, long line (worth £10), training manual, instructional DVD: 55 mins approx running time including Bonus trick, Bonus Training Session, Intro to Clicker Training, Q & A with Sarah


    Website articles:

    How to use a long line properly here (under information to download)




    Deposits into the Perfect Recall Account

    List of Reinforcers



    How to Create a Motivating Toy

    http://www.cleverdogcompany.com/tl_f...e recall.pdf

    Teaching Come | Ahimsa Dog Blog


    Train a


  8. gooddog

    gooddog PetForums Newbie

    Oct 26, 2013
    Likes Received:
    a professional trainer and every time someone new asks for advise the first thing I ask is “What program are you working?” Well, 99% of the time the answer is none or what do you mean. That’s THE #1 problem with dog owners training their own dog.

    I cant stress enough that to properly train a dog, you need a system. A system that starts with establishing you as the ALPHA and building from there. ALL training problems boil down to 2 basic problems, #1 the dog owner never established themselves as the ALPHA, and #2 The owner used force or intimidation in place of being the ALPHA.

    The simple fact is YOU CANNOT TRAIN A DOG THAT DOES NOT VIEW YOU AS THE ALPHA OR PACK LEADER, PERIOD. If someone says otherwise they don't know what they are talking about. I use the same system for every dog I train and it works perfectly every time. I agree every dog is different and no two ever progress exactly the same, BUT every dog responds perfectly to the same consistent system.

    The try this, try that, approach is hap hazard and rarely produces good results and normally the person gives up or brings their dog to someone like me. The thing is, if a person follows the same system I use they WILL get quality lasting results and cure ANY behavior problem. Most of the time following a system heads off problems before they become major issues.

    I think in your case your dog still is not looking to you as the true pack leader and looses focus when in a new setting. You need to return to step 1 establishing you as the alpha, and slowly introduce your dog to more and more distractions.

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to work a high quality training system. You will be amazed how quickly your dog will respond when you use a system he can understand. The best gift you can give your dog is to teach him to behave as we expect. Any dog can learn, give him a structured approach to learning and you will have a perfect pet.
  9. ouesi

    ouesi Guest

    A) Spam for a training system
    B) Pack leader baloney.

    I guess today is fake meat metaphor day :D

    Ignore the above, and follow the good advice you've already gotten :)
  10. gooddog

    gooddog PetForums Newbie

    Oct 26, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Now I know why so many people struggle with dog training. Ignorant, uninformed, based on nothing but opinion, people giving advise.

    I ask this person
    1 Where did you go to dog training school? I graduated from Animal Behavior Collage. 1 year of class study and 120hrs hand on training. I also studied under Mike Lardy and Steve Stevens in advanced Retriever Training
    2 How many dogs have you trained? I've worked with well over 100 in the past couple years.
    3 How many dog's have you trained that have trophies or Titles as a result of your training? I have 17 AKC Junior Hunters 9 AKC Master Hunters 5 AKC Master National Hunters and 1 AKC Master Hunter + Field Champion.

    I think I earned the right to my advise through VERY hard work Tons of money spent on Schooling and working Knowledge. I'm advising based on what I was trained BY PROFESSIONALS and use successfully on a daily basis not what my buddy or his Neighbor did with their dog and it just happened to work in that instance.

    THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT THING I DO WITH A DOG IS BECOME ITS NEW PACK LEADER If you want simple lasting results with your dog follow a program.
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