Halloween is basically the start of my favorite time of year. I love the cool, fall weather, and scary movies are definitely my favorite. After a hot, humid, muggy summer that I hate and typically become a hermit to get away from the heat, I always feel refreshed and like a new person this time of year. This year, we are partaking in the Third Annual Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop hosted by Jessica from Beagles and Bargains and Jodi from Kol’s Notes, so a huge thank you goes out to them!
The Trick or Treat Giveaway is sponsored by CleverPet, The Honest Kitchen, Planet Dog, and Health Extension. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and not influenced by any person or business. The individual sponsors are responsible for their giveaway prizes, including shipping.
So, how does this Trick or Treat Giveaway Hop work anyway?
There are 20 bloggers participating in this event, and all of them are posting a “how to” guide on training a trick, and the great thing is that everyone is posting a unique trick. At each blog, you will find a new chance to enter to win over $850 prizes! The prizes from Clever Pet, The Honest Kitchen, Planet Dog, and Health Extension range from an incredibly innovative dog puzzle game to various delicious treats, a PetSmart gift card, and fun toys! For more details, check out the event page.
Buster’s Whistle Recall
There is no better way to start off my favorite time of year than by getting outside and teaching Buster a new “trick.” I put trick in quotes because while it is sort of a trick, this is also a potentially lifesaving technique for your dog. To be honest, Buster needed to learn a whistle recall for our endeavors into the sport of Mondioring, but we’ve been traveling more and getting out and about more, so having a whistle recall was a good idea anyway.
When clients come to me for training lessons, they usually tell me that they want their dog to walk nicely on a leash and have a good recall. Recall is probably the single most important thing you can teach your dog, and sadly, a lot of us don’t focus on it enough so our dogs don’t have great recalls. And, of course, a good recall can potentially save your dog’s life.
Some of my best tips for recall are:
1.) Reward your dog when he comes to you, every single time. Even if your dog is 5 years old or 10 years old.
1a.) You get bonus points in my book if you reward your dog with an extra special treat that you use primarily only for recall. (A lot of my clients will buy tubs of cheese balls and reserve them for this after we play “Cheeseball Recall” in our puppy class.)
2.) Never call your dog to you to do something unpleasant or aversive to your dog. Don’t call your dog to you to yell at them or to throw them in timeout or to give them a bath (unless they’re a weirdo that actually loves baths!)
2a.) Walking off-leash at the park is great, but make sure you call your dog to you periodically throughout your walk. So, call your dog to you every 5 minutes or so and give them a treat. If you only ever call them to leash them up and go home, your dog will quickly figure that game out and avoid you.
3.) Try to use a “unique” word that you don’t use every day in conversation, but it also has to be a word you’ll think of easily in an emergency. Buster’s verbal recall is simply, “Here!” I know people that use, “Cookie!” and “Bananas” and “Abracadabra!” and “Come here!” and “Come!”
So, why am I bothering with a whistle recall if Buster has a verbal recall?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s required for our sport of choice, but I also think it’s a phenomenal idea to have a whistle recall and will likely to teach it to all future dogs.
Here are some reasons why a whistle recall is best:
1.) It is much louder than my voice and will carry a longer distance. Truthfully, I don’t let Buster off leash, and his longest long line is only 30′, but still. In an emergency situation, a whistle will be louder and more clear to him than my voice.
2.) The whistle is a distinct sound that sounds the same every single time. Even though I primarily say “Here!” the same way, it certainly can sound different depending on my tone/if I’m sick, etc.
3.) Even though I’m a fan of picking “unique” recall words, I will never think of something weird in an emergency, which is why I used “here.” Unfortunately, that does get used in common everyday conversation. Just like with people, it could be easy for Buster to have selective hearing and decide “not to hear me” when I said, “Here!” especially if it was an emergency distracting situation we hadn’t trained for.
4.) If Buster did happen to get lose or have an emergency situation, nearby people may try to help and may yell things like “Come here!” That’s nice and helpful and all, but it’s unlikely they’ll have a whistle. If I’m there and able to blow my whistle, I’d obviously rather have my dog come running back to me than a random stranger.
So, how do you train a whistle recall?
Chances are you have trained your dog to come to you in some fashion, whether it’s to their name when you call it or to their recall word. The truth is, training a whistle recall is not different at all. In fact, it’s even easier if your dog does already come to you when you say a certain word. You’re essentially just using the whistle instead of your voice.
So, let’s break down the process:
1.) Even if your dog has a formal recall word, we are starting from baby steps. So go to your kitchen or living room and work within about a 5 or 6 foot square space. Show your dog you have treats and happily and energetically back up and make movements and get your dog to follow you with those treats. Reward when they are in front of you.
2.) Making those same fun, quick movements in a small space with no distractions, grab your whistle (this is the one I use), blow your whistle, and lure your dog to you with your treats. Reward when the dog is in front of you.
Note: If you have a dog who is sensitive to sound and gets scared, make sure you blow it much quieter and shorter until they get used to it and realize that it’s an awesome thing because it means treats are coming!
3.) Take the concepts in #2 but go to a different location. If you were in your kitchen, go to your living room, and vice versa.
4.) Make sure your dog knows you still have treats but fade out your lure. The dog should run the few steps to you once you blow the whistle. Again, always make sure you reward once your dog is in front of you.
5.) Go to the backyard and repeat the same steps above. Once you can do that, put your dog in a stay, walk a about 3-5 feet, and blow your whistle. Reward when they come to you.
Here are some videos of Buster and I, which will help demonstrate what I mean:
You can really see what I mean by making short quick movements with treats to entice your dog to follow you. Always set your dog up for success!
You could always reward only with a toy as well. Eventually, this whistle recall can even mean “drop your toy and come running to me,” so it could have lots of translation into some nice sport and bite/tug work.
By now, your’e probably getting the idea. You start small and increase the distance. Once you can reliably whistle recall your dog to you from a good distance away, go back to a short distance and add distractions. So, stand near your dog in the backyard, but when he is distracted with a leaf on the ground, whistle recall him to you. Make sure to start with small, silly distractions and work your way up. It takes a lot of time and practice in all sorts of various situations before you can expect to take your dog to a park off-leash and whistle recall them off of running deer or squirrels if you have a high prey drive dog.
If your dog does have a verbal recall and for some reason you’re still having problems, you can use that to help you. In that case, you would blow the whistle, then say your verbal recall, and then reward when they are in front of you. You will eventually fade out the verbal recall you say after blowing the whistle as they get better.
I know, it’s not like you needed another piece of equipment to hold onto during these training sessions, but I still have to recommend using a clicker for this exercise. You want to click the second your dog gets in front of you and sits.
Now… it’s time for the Giveaway Treat!
Remember to go to each blog post to enter to win over $850 worth of prizes!
$300 Giftcard to Petsmart
CleverPet Hub (a $299 value) – sponsored by Clever Pet
A $68 value of goodies and treats – sponsored from The Honest Kitchen
A $50 value of awesome toys – sponsored by Planet Dog
A $40 value of delicious treats – sponsored by Health Extension
PLUS, follow everyone on Instagram for a chance to win a special social media prize – a $100 Giftcard to Petsmart!
Here are the all of the other blogs, so make sure you check them out for more opportunities to win! (And maybe learn some fun new tricks along the way!)
Learn to Crawl
by Kol’s Notes
Learn to Calmly Ride in Elevators
by Beagles & Bargains
Learn to Not Freak Out When a Doorbell Rings
by A Dog Walks into a Bar
Learn to Ring a Bell
Learn to be “Sassy”
by Dog Mom Days
Learn Whistle Recall
by Fetch for Me, Human
Learn “Beg”, “Which Hand”, and Indoor Exercise Trick Sets
by Fidose of Reality
Learn to Stand on Your Hind Legs
by Heart Like A Dog
Learn to Kiss
by It’s Dog or Nothing
Learn to Touch
by Life With Beagle
Learn to Pick It Up or Take It
by My Dog Likes
Learn to Crawl Through a Tight Tunnel
by My GBGV Life
Learn to Shake Paws (for Dogs Who Don’t Like Their Paws Touched!)
by Sarcastic Dog
Learn Puppy Push Ups
by Spencer the Goldendoodle
Learn Two Dog Tricks
by Tails from the Road
Learn “Paw” and “Shake Paw”
by Talent Hounds
Learn to Cover Your Eyes
by Tenacious Little Terrier
Learn to Jump Through a Hoop
by The Broke Dog
Learn to Spin
by The Daily Pip
Learn to Open Doors
by Wag ‘n Woof Pets
Visit each blog for more chances to win!