Improve Your Recall Using Proofing

proofing recall Jun 05, 2023
Competition Obedience Proofing Novice

There are only three ways that your dog can fail the recall. He can:

  1. Not come,
  2. Come too soon
  3. Get lost on the way.

Using simple proofing (intentionally adding distractions), you can cause your dog to make all those errors in training. By doing so, you will improve your dog’s understanding of exactly how the exercise should be performed!

Even if your dog has performed the exercise correctly countless times and has performed the exercise correctly in a variety of locations and situations, he may need more information to consistently perform the exercise correctly.

If you have not purposefully added distractions to your recall, it’s time to do so. Try the following in your next training session.

Begin by leaving your dog for a recall and asking a friend (preferably someone your dog knows and likes) to stand midway between you and your dog. When you call him, ask your friend to offer him a treat as a distraction. You are intentionally attempting to get him to get lost on the way.

When your friend speaks to your dog and holds out a treat, your dog may run directly to your friend instead of you. At this point, your dog cannot imagine that he should come straight to you when he is getting a better offer along the way. Not only is it a new situation, but he doesn’t understand that visiting your friend (who you let him visit all the time) and not coming in straight is wrong. When your dog stops at your friend, calmly go get him and bring him to you, repeating your come command.

Try repeating the exercise. This time, when you leave your dog, he may look at your friend, recognize that she represents trouble, and as soon as you turn around, run to you. Your dog has come up with what he believes to be a perfectly acceptable solution to the problem. You want him to come, he intends to do so, immediately!

You just caused another one of the three errors. He came too soon. Now you have an opportunity to explain to your dog that anticipating is not acceptable either. Tell him, “no, Sit!” and take him back to where you originally left him.

Again, leave him and walk to the other end of the ring. When you call him, he may look at your friend and then at you and just sit there as if to say, “I can’t go to her, I can’t come to you, I’m just staying right here!” Now you have caused the third error. He has refused to come. Fabulous! Go get your dog and bring him to you, showing him that he must come to you when he is called.

It will probably take more than one training session (with more than one friend) for your dog to understand that these rules apply in all situations. However, the next time you practice the recall, he will have more information:

  • He has performed the exercise correctly countless times.
  • He has performed the exercise correctly in a variety of locations and situations.
  • He is learning he must come when you call him, he cannot come before you call him, and he must not get lost on the way.

When your dog understands both how to solve the problem of a recall, and how you will not allow him to solve the problem, the chances that he will perform correctly in the ring are greatly improved!


If you enjoyed this article, check out my other blog posts on PROOFING

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