Recall Games

I’m a huge believer in the work=play=work school of dog training. Which is why Silas thinks heeling is the wackiest game on the planet and pops from his down to his sit like a funny little rabbit.

Lately we’ve been doing one that works shockingly well. This is our recall game.

Silas burns most of his excess energy in these hot, park-less days by running around like a crazy upstairs with my husband. I try not to watch, honestly, because I’m pretty sure a lot of my personal dog-behavior rules get thrown completely out the window. Instead, I sit downstairs and listen. When it sounds like things are at their absolute craziest, I call Silas downstairs, give him a treat, and send him back upstairs.

There are three benefits. First, I interrupt playtime before it gets really out of hand. Secondly, I get to double-reward Silas for coming when he’s called. He knows that he can leave the thing that he really wants to do, get a treat, and the recall doesn’t end the fun. Third, this one of the most distracting situations I can possibly create to test his recall inside the house. The fact that he listens to me and leaves his favorite game is a big deal.

We do a version of the same thing at the park when we’re all out together with Silas on his long line. There, it’s kind of a triple fun, because he sprints back to me as fast as his little legs will carry him (running=fun), gets a toy or a treat (toy=fun), and then gets to run away again (running=fun).

It has an interesting side effect, too. Just now I tested it by calling him away from a squirrel outside. None of my neighbors are home during the day, so when he came to me, I gave him a cookie and sent him back to bark at the squirrel. Except, it wasn’t quite as fun. I called him back again, gave him another cookie, and sent him back a second time. Meh. After that, he trotted back into the house quite happy with himself. I was mostly using it as an opportunity to test his recall in a charged moment (my other criteria were very low–I was only four feet away, I wasn’t expecting the level of speed I usually do, and aside from the squirrel out patio is very boring), but it also completely diffused the situation.

4 thoughts on “Recall Games

  1. I love the idea of calling Silas away from his games with your husband. Just curious–if you called your husband, would he come running downstairs? πŸ™‚

    We do something similar with Honey at the dog park. People are amazed that she comes to me. But we practice it frequently. I always want to be more fun than any dog.


  2. Hahaha – does it sound like you have a herd of buffalo stampeding upstairs when your husband and Silas are romping around?

    This is a great idea for teaching recall – I’m going to have to try this out on Blueberry.


  3. Very clever. I was pretty surprised how bad Freighter’s recall was at the hunt test when gunfire and ducks were involved. I shouldn’t say it was bad, the last five feet were bad…lol. His recall is really solid otherwise. Now to try to find a way to duplicate that environment when we are not at a test!


  4. I love how you’re combining play with proofing… and that Silas is responding so well…Same question as Pamela…would your husband come downstairs for a cookie πŸ™‚


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