How To Hard Wire Your Puppy For A Solid Off Leash Recall

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Dog Behavior
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How To Hard Wire Your Puppy For A Solid Off Leash Recall

I was asked yesterday for some tips on training your dog to be reliable off leash and one of the ways I begin to bond with my pups is to take advantage of the period of time during a pups life when they imprint on their Mother, and litter mates, and the humans who interact with them.

Imprinting is a way of learning about who their mother is and how they should socialize with their siblings, in other words what it means to be a dog. It is also the time when they learn who they will mate with in the future.

This phase of imprinting takes place between the 4 to 12 week period.

Anything the pup imprints on during this stage of life is there for the life of the dog, and is very hard to un-train. This is why it is never a good idea to take a pup away from his Mother before he has time to learn how to socialize with his or her mates.

If you bring a pup home with you, let’s say at the age of 5 or 6 weeks, he or she has not had time to properly learn about what is means to be a dog and will imprint on the humans, and in fact will think they are human, and future behavior will reflect this confusion.

When introduced to other dogs the pup will not know how to socialize with these alien creatures and become fearful or suspicious and might very well show aggression.

Therefore it is important to seek out a breeder who understands the importance of this early development and keeps the pups with the mother and litter mates for at least 8 weeks, and once the pup comes home with you, continued exposure to other dogs outside your home is critical to proper socialization.

This is how you can take advantage of this stage of development and use imprinting to practically guarantee your pup will come to you every time you ask for the rest of their lives, providing you don’t ruin your relationship by using force or being unfair and abusive.

From the moment you bring your new pup home, words are not really that helpful, a pup can learn words like sit, down, come, stay.

But if you really want to make an impact on your pups future behavior you need to imprint on the pup a sound that means good things are about to happen.

For me that sound is a whistle..

Each day when I step out to go and feed my pups I begin to whistle..,you know like if you are whistling for your dog to come..3 or 4 short bursts of sound as I walk to the building where they are waiting.

They can’t see me but hear the whistle, and then all of a sudden the door opens and I am there with food, praise, tummy rubs, walks, drinks of water, toys and games, and other good things that make my pups happy..over time the pups imprint on this whistling sound, and soon they are all at the door waiting in anticipation of the good things that are coming.

Over the next 3-4 weeks the pups learn that when they hear the sound it is in their best interest to come quick so they don’t miss out on the goodies..later when they are out and about learning and experiencing life..all I have to do is come to the door and whistle..and before I know it I am surrounded by happy bouncing pups eager to see what I have for them..and will follow at my heels..and there is always something good in coming to me.

Around the age of 12 weeks I begin to use the word Come in association with the whistle, and they soon learn that the word “Come” means the same as the sound..something good is about to happen.

The whistle and the word, “Come”, becomes hard wired to mean come here quick..and will almost never fail regardless of distraction or the age of your dog, because it has become imprinted in their behavior, much like when Pavlov rang the bell and the dogs drool in anticipation of the food reward.

My pups learn that the safest and most rewarding place to be is near leash or collar required.

I hope you like this post, and if you did you can let me know by liking my Page  River Valley Dog Training


All the best.



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