Therapy Dogs International Testing Part 7

Sorry to have missed yesterday’s post. The flu got the better of me 😦 And it appears I don’t post on Tuesdays because they’ve been just a bit to hectic…

Now back to TDI…


I like to start training a recall as a really “fun” behavior. At the dog club we call it “Happy chase recall”. Here’s how you start training it:

Hold five treats in your hand. Show the treats to your dog. Have someone hold your dog’s leash while you jog away 10 ft. Turn to face your dog, while you’re still moving (now you’re walking backwards, you don’t need to jog backwards), this will help to get your dog’s attention — say his name in an enthusiastic, loud (so he’s sure to hear you), up-beat tone. When he starts to move toward you, clap and encourage him to run to you. As soon as you say your dog’s name have the helper let the leash go. Say “COME” (or whatever your cue) ONLY when the dog is already running toward you. As your dog gets to you use your marker (once), praise, and give him the treats one at a time. As you are giving the treats put your hand in your dog’s collar, so he can’t dart away!

The reason for the 5 treats is that you want your dog to come to you, when he does come you want him to be happy about hanging out with you (not darting away) and once you have him controlled by the leash or collar you still want him to be happy about being with you. Repeat the exercise.

Never call your dog to you to discipline – go to him. Don’t call to give pills or put in crate UNLESS you first reward with treats & praise.

Another helpful exercise for building a good recall is the RANDOM RECALL. Here are two ways to apply this, you will train these both on leash so you can help control your dog’s response if necessary:
• As you are walking long surprise your dog by suddenly calling him and either taking several steps backward or changing direction, as he follows click and treat. Make it fun!
• Toss a treat a foot or so in front of your dog, as your dog is taking the treat, call his name and then the cue word HERE!!! or COME!!! enthusiastically. Immediately and quickly back away from him. (Extend your hands outward to aid as a target) Use your marker as he gets to you and PRAISE. TREAT and PRAISE generously when he sits in front of you. He must sit with you until you release him with your release word (OK).

Once you have a solid recall, you’re ready to polish the exercise for TDI testing. Hopefully you’ve been working on your stay 🙂 since your dog will have to hold his position while you walk out 10 feet. You may want to add a new cue for this stay (that’s associated with this recall) to help your dog understand he’s waiting (holding his position) for further instructions. “Wait” might be a good choice. Start out by going out about 6 feet. Call your dog. He should come briskly. When he gets to you mark the behavior, treat, praise and release. Gradually you will increase the distance, understanding that the more distance you add the more opportunity your dog has to do something else. Remember, your goal is for you dog to be successful, not to over test him too early.

Things to watch out for:

• Anticipation — when your dog comes before you call him. To help prevent this try to wait 5 to 10 seconds upon reaching your destination before you call him.
• Not holding the sit as you walk away. To help prevent this use your random behaviors to help strengthen your dog’s wait. For example, have him sit, tell him “wait” take 3 steps forward, if he’s still sitting return to him & feed! Or walk all the way out to your destination, count to 5 and come back to your dog & feed.

Once your dog is really good at this recall you may want to gradually add distractions. At first they should be at a distance and only once your dog has been repeatedly successful should you add them in closer proximity.

Good luck 🙂



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