Come When Called – Part 4 – Remote Collar Recall

In the last several posts, I’ve described the first phases of my journey with Eagle for a truly rock-solid recall (or come when called). He did the foundation training that I outlined in Part 2 – Foundation Matters. In Part 3 – Really Reliable Recall, I described my second attempt to train the skill that can save a dog’s life. In some dogs, they may never need to go further than the foundation training or a positive-only come when called training. That may be all they need. Unfortunately, for Eagle (and many other dogs we see here at All Dawgs Training Services), that is simply not the case. When Eagle ended up close to being on a busy road for the second time, I know I needed something else.  I made the decision to e-collar train him. Some people may view the e-collar as “evil” or “cruel.” It is a piece of equipment. And like any other piece of equipment and can be misused just like any other piece of equipment. However, I view it as a life-saver as I truly believe that Eagle would not be alive had I not done this training. I would rather correct my dog — where I can control the stimulation — than allow my dog to be hit by a car.

The training I gave Eagle is the same training we now offer to our clients. It is a two-phase process and dogs are usually off leash in about one hour. Then, just like any other training, the dog and human need to practice to cement that training. The first phase is the “Just Right” phase (think Goldilocks!). In this phase, the trainer works directly with the dog to find the level of stimulation that will help them understand they need to change their behavior. If the stimulation from the e-collar is too low, they will not care about changing their behavior. If the stimulation from the e-collar is too high, the dog may squeak. This is where the equipment matters. Most e-collars on the market have about 10 settings. The collars we sell as part of the Remote Collar Recall package have 127 settings… so we can get the level of stimulation just right! It’s also during this phase where we introduce a new recall word. We do this because the word “come” is broken — i.e. the dog does not think he has to comply!

The second phase is where the owner, at the direction of our trainers,  begin teaching their dog they must comply with all three criteria of the come when called skill:

  1. Come
  2. Come Quickly
  3. Come All the Way

During training, we start on a long leash and slowly work to the point that the owner can first drop the leash and then, at long last, take the leash off! Most owners are very nervous about this part — which is why it is essential we do it! Both the owner and the dog need to learn the confidence that the dog can always come back! Our goal is that the dog will maintain the same training when they are not wearing the e-collar just like they are wearing the e-collar. Over time, I learned that no matter what, I could get Eagle (and now all my dogs) to come when they are called! This means, I can give them the freedom of being off leash more than on and still keep them safe!

What would you do to keep your dog safe?

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