This is the simplest of the Games and introduces the dog and handler to restrained recalls. The dog is held (ideally by its harness) by a helper, who releases it so that the dog can quickly return to its handler for a reward that it really wants.
As Recall Aims explained, this is the first and most important Dog-Game that a dog and handler can do together, as both of them can learn so much about their relationship with each other whilst having lots of fun together. These deceptively simple exercises develop a stronger and deeper understanding between a dog and its handler, and they will have a profound and positive effect on any future training they may do together.
Here is a diagram of the training area showing the preferred dimensions of a Dog-Games training lane. Ideally the dog should run to the handler over an approximate distance of 51ft/15.3m. However, due to the limitations of space at some training areas, the overall dimensions are not compulsory. Read Where and When To Train for more information about the best training environment for your dog.
We recommend -
That records (see Trainers Record Sheet) are kept of the dog's progress in the Games so that you can start the next session where you finished.
You read Different Ways of Learning (which explains that no two dogs are the same and that each method of training has to suit the dog's ability to learn) before embarking on this first training session.
That before the dog arrives, prepare the training area by measuring where the poles and the 51ft/15.3m marker should be (and when doing Bounce, where the jumps are placed) . If circumstances allow, we strongly recommend that you use spray paint to mark the exact location of these two points so that the dog can be released from the same spot, and the handler can stand in the same position each time. We always find that this ability to be consistent has a profound effect on building the dog's confidence and enthusiasm as the session progresses, because the dog soon recognises what is going to happen next and happily walks down the lane with the helper or trainer.
Remember not to over face the dog, particularly in this first session when it has so much to explore and remember.
Do a maximum of five runs in the session (although every dog who has done Recall Starters easily achieves the three runs without any "mistakes").
- After the training session is over, ask the handler to take the
dog quietly away to its car so that it will
have the opportunity to remember what it has just learnt without
any distractions of the sight/sound/body language of other dogs or
the handler . This quiet time enables the dog to store the happy
associations it had in the training session in its long-term memory
(latent learning) and you will
find that it will consistently do the behaviour whenever it is
asked to do so in the future.
- Only put the training equipment away once all the dogs have
been looked after and are resting peacefully. Some dogs
become anxious and unsettled when they see their exciting training
environment changing as the equipment is moved and
- Once the dogs have had a chance to relax and unwind, and the training equipment has been put away, small groups of dogs should be allowed free time off the lead together. This is best done by a few handlers and dogs going together for a gentle stroll in an area with enough space for the dogs to move away or approach each other as they need. It is important that the humans do not call their dogs or give commands while this canine interaction is going on. The dogs need to relax and be themselves without the added pressure of listening out for their handlers voice as well. It is also important that no toys are played with when exercising the dogs, as this could over excite them or start aggressive behaviour between certain dogs over who should have the toy. The handlers and trainer will begin to notice which dogs are comfortable and friendly with one another and which prefer to keep their distance. This will help them decide later on which dogs to choose when doing changeovers in the Gold levels of the Dog-Games. There are no changeovers or Gold Levels in Recall and Bounce.
STARTERS TRAINING SESSION AND TEST
The dog must be able to do at least three out of five correct restrained recalls from the 51ft/15.3m marker, through the poles, and return to its handler for its motivator which is given while it is being held by its harness by its handler.
If the dog is unable to fulfill this criteria it should be rested, and should not be trained again within an hour of the last attempt, after which further training may be given.
- Allow the dog to run freely off lead round the training area (see Where & When) so that it can explore the environment. Both handler and helper should not distract the dog by calling to it or giving it any commands. Allow it to relieve itself without reprimand - it is just marking the area so that it will recognise it next time and also to pass on the "news" to other dogs that it has been there. The handler should only call the dog to them once it has become settled and is becoming bored with the lack of stimulation.
- While the handler is putting on the dog's harness and attaches the lead to it, the helper should place the two poles in their location.
- *The helper or trainer then takes the lead and calmly and quietly walks the dog between the poles up to the 51ft/15.3m marker. He must not be tempted to manhandle the dog by pushing it into the required position, or turning it in circles in an attempt to distract the dog. These actions disorientate the dog and make it lose its sense of direction as to where it is supposed to be running. The manhandling will also frustrate the dog, as it will upset its balance whilst it is preparing to run.
- *Meanwhile, the handler calmly stands just behind the poles with their back to the dog (this helps the dog to walk away from the handler as neither has direct eye contact). If the dog becomes anxious and stops, or turns to go back to its handler, the helper should stand still and not attempt to pull the dog away from the handler. The helper should give the dog time to think and analyse the situation, and watch the dog's body for subtle signs that it is relaxing. As soon as the dog relaxes the helper should make a distraction noise (such as clicking their tongue, or making kissing sounds) to attract the dog's attention, and continue walking up the lane to the marker point - repeating the stop/dog relaxes/distraction noise/continue as and when needed. Some dogs need the added reassurance that they are doing the right thing going with the helper, in which case the helper can give the dog genuine smiles and "happy" words of praise as they walk down the lane together.
* If the dog is still unable to cope with being parted from its handler and is too stressed to be led away by the helper, the following two alternatives may be more suitable.
i) The helper stands in position in the lane ready to do the restrained recall. Meanwhile, the handler brings the dog up to the helper. The helper holds the dog's harness while the handler calmly and quickly takes the lead off and runs down the lane and between the finish poles. Running helps to keep the time that the dog and handler are apart to an absolute minimum, however, some dogs become even more anxious seeing their handler running away and on these occasions the handler should walk slowly and calmly between the poles and take up their position. The helper should release the dog as soon as the handler turns to face the dog - any delay will stress the dog even more and start to give it bad associations with doing the exercise next time. It is important for the dog to see the handler go straight down the lane and between the poles, as this is where we want the dog to go as well (the handler will also go over the jumps when they are introducing the dog to Bounce). As the dog becomes more relaxed and at ease with the training, the time can very gradually be lengthened before the dog is released, but always be aware of the dog's levels of stress and do not over face it.
ii) The other option is for the helper to walk the dog up the lane with the handler walking behind them. This reassures the dog that going with the helper is all right. The handler can then quietly slip back to the poles while the dog walks further away, and be ready to call the dog as soon as it is released.
- The helper takes off the
lead and holds the dog by the "handle" of the harness that runs
along the dog's spine, with the dog on either his left or right
side. He must not hold the harness too tightly, just enough
so that as soon as the dog begins to pull against it when the
handler calls its name (6), the helper can release the dog to run
down the lane and through the poles to get its motivator. As
the training session progresses, the dog will learn not to
overbalance itself or pull strongly against the harness, but to sit
and relax until it sees the handler's visual command to run back to
them. Ideally the helper should not say anything to the dog so that
it does not become distracted and can concentrate all its senses on its handler.
- Meanwhile, the handler gets the dog's
motivator ready and then turns to face the dog, standing just
behind the poles in the handler's area of the training
lane. Each time the dog does a Recall run the trainer
can encourage the handler to experiment to see which triggers, or
combinations of triggers, works best to attract the dog's attention
and make it want to run back down the lane to them -
- Calling the dog's name in an exciting and happy high-pitched voice;
- Moving their arms out to the sides of their bodies in a welcoming gesture;
- Turning and slowly exaggerating their movement, as though to run away from the dog;
- Luring the dog by showing it the motivator.
The handler should not use any commands such as "Come"- just the dog's name. Most dogs understand "Come" to mean "stop whatever you are doing and get here as quickly as you can for your reward", and will therefore run round jumps (later on when doing Bounce) rather than over them as this is a quicker route back. However, a dog's name is usually used to get the dog's attention (see Dog's Dictionary) and is usually followed by a command. As no formal command is given and the dog can see the lure of the motivator, the dog chooses of his own free will to run back in the hope of being rewarded.
- As soon as the dog starts to pull against his harness, the helper should remain silent and immediately release the dog so that it can run to his handler for the motivator. It is very important that the dog is praised and rewarded immediately it reaches the handler, and in such a way that the dog is under no illusion that he has done something very clever (although not very taxing!). On the first Recall run the dog will probably not associate the reward for running between the poles - it was just one of those unpredictable human things that happens from time to time! He will happily take advantage of the reward but not understand why he has been given it. He will learn by testing the situation out, and by trial and error, what the reward was given for. We will give him this opportunity as the exercise continues. (See How dogs learn right from wrong).
- The helper will quietly approach the dog and put the lead back on its harness (or use method explained in *). The handler should calmly turn away and assume his position once again in the handler's area. Meanwhile, the helper once again leads the dog up the lane to the 51ft/15.3m marker. It is important not to speak to the dog or distract it while doing these lessons (apart from when it is being rewarded by its handler) so that it has the opportunity to think about what it has just done and begin to retain it in its long-term memory (see Latent Learning).
- Repeat stages 3 to 7 twice more, experimenting on what triggers (6) work best for the dog, and which are too stressful or incomprehensible to the dog. You will then have a good idea about what is the most successful way of communicating with your dog when you are training it.
- Always finish a training session on a successful note and with the dog wanting to still play the game. He will then be keener and more confident the next time he enters the training area.
- Remember to write up the dog's achievements on the dog's Trainers Record Sheet so that you can begin the next session where you left off. Also make sure to write down any training difficulties that the dog needs more work on.
- The handler should calmly take the dog to a quiet place where it can relax and unwind, and be allowed to retain what it has learnt in its memory without any distractions - once again more latent learning. Sometimes a well-ventilated car, which does not give the dog a view of the training area, is an ideal place to let a dog relax in between training sessions.
- Some dogs can cope with more than one training session in their first lesson, while others benefit more from being rested for an hour or so and brought back later or another day, when they are keener to play the game again. Trust your instincts and remember - it is better to do too little and teach some more next time, than to do too much and take the dog's eagerness away for repeating the Game in the future. We strongly recommend that dogs only do Recall Starters, and to do Recall Bronze Certificate 1 on another day.
- If you do try another session later on, consult your notes so that you can start where you left off and try to progress from there.
|The dog has now earned its Starters
Recall rosette. It can now progress on to Bronze Recall
As soon as the Entry Form and fees are received our staff will enter your dog's details on the website's Roll of Honour, so that you have a record of its achievements as it progresses through the Dog-Games, and your rosette will be posted to you.
The Material contained herein may not be reproduced
without the prior written approval of Dog Games Ltd.
© 2000-2005 All Rights Reserved.