Yo-yoing distance when training a recall

I worked with a couple of Jack Russells Terriers today and it made me think about recall training. Every once in a while, when I’m training dogs, something clicks into place about a method I’ve been using or the way I’ve been explaining an idea or technique. The idea of yo-yoing distance is something which has been rattling about in my head for a while.

Basically, when we start training a recall, we want to be a short distance from the dog and a long distance from the distraction (other dog, person, interesting smell in the grass, squirrel etc.). Highly praise and reward the dog for looking at or towards you or fully coming back using food, praise and/or a game such as tug or throwing a ball. Always ensure to touch the dog’s collar before the reward. A recall isn’t much use if we can’t take out dog’s collar when they come back. Move a little closer to the distraction, then call your dog again. Rinse and repeat.

When your dog is doing well with us at a close distance to the dog, and the dog a close distance from the distraction, we start again. We then start to increase our distance from us to the dog and gradually work on increasing the distance between us. When the dog can recall when we are further away from the dog, and the dog is far from the distraction, start to reduce the distance between to dog and the distraction.

Your training progress should look something like this over the weeks, months etc

You—–dog————————————————————————————————distraction

You—-dog——-distraction

eventually

You————————————————————————————————–dog–distraction

This way, we are progressively making it more difficult for the dog as his level of competence increases.

I also use a long line to help, either as a safety net in case he bolts or as a very gently help with light pressure to encourage him toward us. Remember, don’t reel the dog in. As soon as he is moving towards you, there should be no pressure on the line.

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