How to Train a Terrier Recall

Medium
6-18 Weeks
General

Introduction

Imagine backpacking the Appalachian Trail with your dog. You are enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, your Terrier is running back and forth between you and your hiking companions. He may be small but his energy seems to surpass yours. You hear something down the trail, uncertain about what it is, you yell "Come" loudly enough for your dog, who is at least two hundred feet away, to hear. Your dog takes off down the trail to find you. He arrives at your side and eagerly gazes up at your face. You praise him affectionately. You proceed down the trail together and discover that the noise was just some other hikers, headed in the opposite direction. You pass by them while your dog walks beside you. After they are gone, you tell your dog "OK!" and he speeds down the trail ahead, looking back every few feet to make sure that you are following behind still.

Whether you hope to go on outdoor adventure with your dog, are worried about your dog escaping out your front door, or just do not want to have to chase your dog down every time that you need him to come over to you, 'come' is one of the most important commands that you can teach your dog. 'Come' could one day save his life, and you never know when you might need it.

Defining Tasks

When you are teaching your dog to come, do not use "Come" to get your dog to come over to you to do something unpleasant. For example, do not tell your dog to come so that you can give him a bath if he hates baths. Instead go get your dog for the bath, or use a different word such as "Inside" to call him. If you tell your dog to come and then do something unpleasant when he arrives, he will soon learn to avoid you, and 'come' will no longer be a potentially life-saving command for your dog. You want your dog to want to come to you.

At the same time though, your dog should not come to you only when he feels like it. He does need to learn that coming is not optional, it is something important that he has to do. That is why it is important to reel him in with a long leash or go get him and bring him back to where you called him from if he chooses to ignore your command. He needs to learn that the quickest way to get back to what he was doing before is to come to you first. For that reason, after you call him to you, as much as possible, allow him to return to what he was previously doing after he comes.

There will be times when your dog will need to come to you for something unpleasant and will not be able to return to what he was doing before. If he was chasing a car, then he obviously needs to leave the car alone, which is unpleasant for him, and he cannot return to the car after he comes. When you must call him to you to do something unpleasant to him and you cannot allow him to return to what he was doing before, then practice 'come' several times in a row after that incident, and reward him when he comes each of those times, and then allow him to go back to what he was doing before each time, so that he will still expect coming to be pleasant in the future.

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats, that are easy for your pup to eat. You will also need enough small Ziploc bags or training pouches for everyone who will be training your dog. Your dog will also need to know the 'sit' command or a similar command such as 'down' that can be used in place of  'sit'. You will also need a calm location to begin training in. 

If you are using 'The Hide And Seek Method' then your calm location will need to have simple hiding places, such as trees, furniture, or walls. If you are using 'The Round Robin Method' or 'The Long Leash Method' then your calm location will need to be spacious. For all of the methods, you will also need additional locations with different types of distractions, to practice your training in as your dog improves. 

If you are using 'The Long Leash Method' then you will also need a padded back clip harness and a thirty or fifty-foot leash. You also might need a padded back clip harness and a thirty or fifty-foot leash if you are using 'The Round Robin Method' or 'The Hide And Seek Method' and anywhere that you practice the training that is not safely enclosed. If you are using 'The Round Robin Method' or 'The Hide And Seek Method' then you will need at least one assistant. If you are using 'The Hide And Seek Method', you can still practice this method without the help of an assistant, but instead of having the assistant call your dog and hide after you release him, you can simply wait until your dog wanders away from you after you release him, before calling him to yourself and a new hiding place again. This will take more time, but it can be done.

With all of the methods, you will need a positive and upbeat attitude, patience, persistence, and a willingness to have fun with your dog while training!  

The Round Robin Method

Effective
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Step
1
Find assistants
To begin, recruit one, two, or three assistants to help you. Have everyone fill a small Ziploc bag or treat pouch with treats and stick the bag into a pocket or hook the treat pouch onto a belt or clothing. Have everyone go somewhere spacious that your Terrier cannot escape from, such as a fenced in yard. If your dog loves his own dog food, then you can also use his dog food as treats.
Step
2
Call your dog
When everyone is in the open space with your dog, then have one person excitedly call your dog by saying his name, telling him "Come", and running away from him.
Step
3
Reward
When your pup catches up with the person who called him, then have the person praise him and feed him three treats, one at a time, while holding onto his collar.
Step
4
Call again
After Fido has finished the treats, then have the person holding his collar tell him "OK!" and let go of his collar, then have a new person call his name, tell him "Come!", and run away from him. When he gets to that person, have her praise him, and reward him with three treats, while holding onto his collar.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat calling your dog back and forth between yourself and your assistants, praising and rewarding him, while holding onto his collar each time, and telling him "OK" before letting him go. Do this until he will go to whoever is calling him whenever they call him, without that person having to run away from him.
Step
6
Add distractions
When your pup has mastered coming to whoever is calling him, then practice this game in a more distracting location. If the location is not fully enclosed, then you can have your dog wear a padded, back clip harness, and attach a thirty or fifty-foot leash to the harness, so that he cannot escape during the training.
Step
7
Reel your dog in
If your pup does not come when called, and you are sure that he heard you, then reel him in with the long leash or go get him and bring him back to where you called him from. When he gets to where you originally called him from, then have him sit, tell him "OK" and release him back to whatever he was doing before. When he returns to what he was doing before, then practice calling him away from that particular distraction again. Repeat this process until he comes immediately when you call him. When he does come willingly, then praise him and reward him with three treats, one at a time, while holding onto his collar. When he finishes the treats, immediately release him back to whatever he was doing before by telling him "OK" and letting go of his collar. When you release him, wait several minutes before doing any more training, so that he is rewarded with playtime for coming willingly.
Step
8
Practice
Continue to practice this game in harder and harder locations, until your dog will come no matter what he is doing, around all types of distractions.
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The Hide and Seek Method

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Step
1
Recruit an assistant
To begin, recruit an assistant, and fill two small baggies or treat pouches with small, easy-to-eat treats that your dog loves. Give one bag or pouch to your assistant and keep one for yourself. Next, go to a calm location with your dog and your assistant, such as a room in your home or a fenced in yard.
Step
2
Call your dog
When you and your assistant are ready, let your dog wander a few feet away from you, then call his name and excitedly tell him to "Come", while you run away from him and duck behind something.
Step
3
Reward
When he gets to you, praise him enthusiastically and feed him three pieces of food, one at a time, while you hold onto his collar. After he has finished the food, then tell him "OK" and release his collar.
Step
4
Have your assistant hide
As soon as you tell your dog "OK" and release him, have your assistant call him, and run and hide while he watches her. When he gets to her, have her praise and reward him with three treats, while holding onto his collar. When he finishes the treats have her tell him "OK" and release him.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat calling your dog back and forth between you, but change your hiding locations every time. Gradually choose harder and harder hiding locations as your dog improves, and begin calling him from your hiding location without letting him see where you hid beforehand. Do this until he can find you or your assistant in any spot that you call him from. If he struggles to find you while you are practicing, then give him a hint by clapping your hands.
Step
6
Increase distractions
Randomly hide and call your pup to you when you are with your dog and he is not expecting it. As he improves, go to new places with him and practice this game there, with or without an assistant. If the location that you wish to practice at is not securely enclosed, then place a padded, back clip harness on your dog, and attach a thirty or fifty foot leash to him, so that he can wander away from you, but still be safe.
Step
7
Practice
Practice this game in all types of locations, around different types of distractions, until your dog will consistently come whenever you call him. If at any point he does not come while you are practicing, then reel him in with the long leash or go get him and bring him back to where you originally called him from, then have him sit, tell him "OK" and release him, and then practice calling him again. Do this until he will come to you in that location willingly. Reward him when he comes willingly.
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The Long Leash Method

Effective
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Step
1
Get ready
To begin, put a padded, back clip harness on your dog. If he does not like wearing a harness, then spend time getting him used to it first by giving him treats while you slowly put the harness on and take the harness off. Practice this often for at least a week, until your dog is comfortable wearing a harness. When your dog is comfortable wearing a harness, then attach a thirty or fifty foot leash to the harness and take your dog to a spacious, calm location. Bring treats with you in a small Ziploc bag in your pocket, or a treat pouch, when you go.
Step
2
Call your dog
When you are in the spacious, calm location with your dog, allow him to wander at least ten feet away from you. When he is at least ten feet away from you, then excitedly call his name and tell him to come, while jumping up and down or waving your arms excitedly.
Step
3
Reward
When your dog comes over to you when you call him and act excited, then praise him enthusiastically, and give him three treats, one at a time, while holding onto his collar. When he finishes the treats, tell him "OK" and release his collar.
Step
4
Repeat
After you release your dog, ignore him until he wanders away again. If your dog will not wander away, then walk around until he becomes distracted by something and you can sneak a few feet away from him. When he is several feet away from you, tell him "Come" again, and act excited until he arrives. When he arrives, praise him and reward him like you did before, while holding onto his collar, then release him afterwards by telling him "OK".
Step
5
Practice
Practice calling your dog to you every time that he gets several feet away from you. If he does not come when you call him, and you are sure that he heard you, then reel him in with the long leash, have him sit when he arrives, and then tell him "OK" and allow him to go back to whatever he was doing before. When he gets distracted again, repeat the process of calling him and reeling him in if he does not come. Do this until he will come willingly, and you can reward him.
Step
6
Add difficultly
When Fido will always come in the calm location, or will not leave your side in anticipation of being called, then take him to a more distracting location and practice there. Practice there until he will always come there as well. Continue to progress to harder and harder locations as he improves. Practice in all types of locations, around different types of distractions, until your dog will come around any type of distraction consistently.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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