Coming when called is a very important behavior for all dogs. It provides the dog with safety and off leash freedom, while it creates a compliant canine citizen for the parent. This tutorial is going be divided into 5 series for training a reliable recall.
Part 1: Teaching the visual and verbal cue
Dogs are visual animals. Teaching a hand target recall for coming when called is a very natural behavior for many dogs. What is a hand target recall? You will teach your dog to come running towards you and bump his nose to your flat open hand on cue. Once your dog understands the touch or come cue, you will have a visual cue for your dog to understand that means come to me from across the room, at the dog park or off leash in central park.
Step 1: Introduce the hand signal
- Take 10 yummy treats and rub the scent of the treats on the hand you want your dog to touch.
- Hold the 10 treats in your other hand. Keep the hand with the treats behind your back.
- Say your dogs name if they are not looking at you. When you have their attention, extend your flat hand with your fingers lined up together, and your palm facing your dog.
- Present your hand 1-2 inches from his nose and keep your hand still like a target for your dog to touch.
- Make sure your hand signal is in line with his nose and your hand is not too high or too low.
- As soon as you feel your dogs nose anywhere on your extended flat hand, say YES in a happy voice and immediately deliver a treat from the hand behind your back.
- Make sure not to leave your hand in the position near the dog’s nose after the “touch” has been done, remove it and then present it again for the next trial.
- Repeat this 10 times.
- Increase the distance
- After a couple of short training sessions, start to move your hand target just a bit further away from your dog. Start presenting your hand 5-10 inches from your dogs nose.
- Also start to move the target a bit to the left, right and up/down.
- Once you start to see that your dog understands the target game, you can add the verbal cue.
How do I know my dog understands the game? You may see one or both of these signals:
- He targets your hand with his nose without any hesitation when you present the target
- He targets your hand quickly and with more force, and then immediately looks to the other hand for a treat
- Add the word
- Picking your verbal cue: You can name this behavior anything you want but keep in mind every time you say this word you now must also present the hand target. Some common labels are “touch,” “come” and “now.”
- Say your verbal cue, ie: Touch and pause for 1-2 seconds
- Present your flat palm out hand target
- As soon as his nose touches your hand mark by the behavior by saying YES and deliver a treat from the hand behind your back.
- Start to generalize! Ask your dog to target through your legs, to target up onto something, to target your hand high enough that they must jump off the ground, etc. Only by generalizing will you get a real-world usable behavior
Video Demo: Check out Lauren Camerini teaching hand targeting for coming when called (Coming Soon)