Agree fully with Candy and Bob. I too made the mistake of inconsitency, not having treats ready all the time and calling them, when I didn't know if they would come. I actually taught them to ignore my call. It's so much better to do it right from the beginning. Later on, they will still learn it (dependent on us), but it will take much more time and effort.
There's a big difference between a recall being enforced through positive punishment with an ecollar and a recall that has been taught through negative reinforcement with an ecollar.
I would have problems using P+ with a 4 month old pup for an off leash recall. I would have no problems teaching a 4 month old pup an ecollar recall where R- is the method. The long line guidance would be used longer and rewards faded out much slower than with a mature dog but it's absolutely possible to start work with it. The stim is kept down to levels that the dog notices but isn't worried about. The stim is treated as the equivalent of light leash guidance rather than a corrective leash pop.
You MUST have a good ecollar to work on those low levels with pups and preferably some experience using it. I taught the ecollar recall for the first time just by going slow and asking a lot of questions but if you have someone who can help it's a lot easier.
That said, I would encourage you to look into the Really Reliable Recall process created by Leslie Nelson. It creates a conditioned recall where your recall word causes the dogs head to whip around towards you and start heading for you before the dog can really stop and consider whether they actually want to come or not. It's for an emergency recall.
Depending on what line you are using you might also look to upgrade your long line so it's not as much of a pain to use. I'm much happier to use a nice biothane line that doesn't absorb water, tangle easily, pick up burrs, etc.
Glad you have had success with escape avoidance, Cathy. The dogs that I am experienced that were trained to recall with escape avoidance did not recall as enthusiastically as my current dog. I have seen both on the Schutzhund field, and judges are starting to show a preference for the dogs who show no stress in their performance.
IPO as a whole is moving away from dogs trained with compulsion. Judges' critiques are reflecting a preference for the enthusiastic, non-stressed presentation. IMO that is something to consider if you plan on training for IPO.
NEVER call a dog if you think there is a chance it wont come.
NEVER call a dog when it's distracted.
NEVER call a dog to correct it.
At this age you ALWAYS want to have a reward handy to reward the dog ANYTIME it comes to you even if you didn't call it.
You ALWAYS want the dog to believe that being with you is the best place on earth.
Every time you call the dog and it doesn't immediately respond then it's being taught that it doesn't have to.
I don't really think this is ignoring when they "refuse". It's just that the lack of consistency creates a situation where command doesn't have real meaning.
All of these things require working through distance and distractions.
The long line is your friend!
What a great thread! For me the recall is one of the most important commands I want to teach my puppy. Bob your advice in the above quote is something I'll always keep in my mind, heck, I'm going to start using laminated index cards for this kind of advice on different training topics that I can take with me and refer to until I have it memorized! Question, I live in a wooded area on a dirt road, and when I'm out with Xeus going for walks and short training sessions he's at the age where I really have to watch him as everything he's comes across he wants to either eat or mouth it. Seeing there are lots of rocks, plants, mushrooms, etc. I really need to be vigilant about what he's doing. So even though I'd like to uses a long line it's just not practical in my situation so I use a retractable leash all the time. Should I find an area where I can use a long line of is the way I'm doing things now ok?
The most striking features of the correctly bred German Shepherds are firmness of nerves, attentiveness, unshockability, tractability, watchfulness, reliability and incorruptibility together with courage, fighting tenacity and hardness.
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