…and the dog salivates.
Many of us know the story of the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov who discovered that by ringing a bell then immediately giving a dog food, the dog would then respond to the bell by getting excited and drooling. We don’t pay much attention to the drooling part these days, but you can use sound to teach other behaviors , like coming when called. In this lesson, I will explain step by step how to use “sound” to teach the perfect recall!
If you subscribe with just your email address, you will be notified when I post something new.Visit my YouTube channel for video tutorials, and don’t forget to follow on FB and IG @catmantoo Thanks!
Rest of Ring the bell
Using a “sound cue” helps the dog learn faster. Because; The sound cue (when taught correctly) is associated with receiving food vs your voice isn’t always. So during the training “cheating” (pretending) you have a taste treat is never recommended. if you can’t follow up after giving a command/cue with a treat then don’t give the command.
If you ever tried calling your cat off the couch, they probably didn’t go so well, But once you press on the electric can opener , even the most stubborn cat will now come when they hear that sound. Your cat was consistently conditioned the can opener sound or drawer opening or whatever, means food is on the way.
First you need a sound cue, this is anything different from a word command: a tongue clicking sound, clapping your hands, a silent whistle, bell, etc. The silent whistle or ref whistle is best because the sound travels further than your voice.
Now, you need the reinforcement, what does your dog likes the most? a ball? food? stuffed Toy? For most dogs— it’s food. If your dog is food crazy, usually dog kibble is enough, if your dog isn’t food crazy you’ll need to provide “high value” food like raw mince or anything else your dog really really wants. Remember that when you’re outside amongst distractions, things that might have had “value” in your house, like patting and a dry biscuit, now have no value with all the distractions around. For most dogs, small soft smelly “healthy” treats are best.
When you practice, keep sessions short, only 1 minute a few times a day is sufficient. If you’re out on a 30 minute walk, you can practice a few 30 second sessions during your walk. Just do many repetitions in that short period.
Step 1. At home, distraction free, on or off leash: 2-3 training sessions; As your dog is close to you and facing you, make the sound cue, right away give them the high value reward. Repeat sound & reward. Many reps, short period of time —30 seconds to 1 minute (at the most)
Step 2. At home, distraction free and off leash: 2-3 training sessions per day; Start to increase the distance you are from them when you make the sound, you can also make the sound while using other visual cues i.e., using your hands in a sweeping motion (come here) and you can crouch down to their level, clapping your hands, bent over slightly while tapping your legs, etc. Be careful not to teach them that running full speed into you is a good thing. If you’re clicker training your dog, just click when they just have turned and are heading back to you. (If you use the clicker as the “sound cue” you won’t be able to use it as a “reward marker” as it was intended). By now your dog is catching on, so you can start increasing your distance from them and slowly adding distractions i.e., friends, a toy, another dog, etc.
As you add distractions, you may have to be close to your dog at first — before increasing the distance.
Step 3. At home: Throughout the day, try to find opportunities when your dog is distracted or in another room (never sleeping). What I do is sneak to another part of the home or backyard to make the sound, and then of course reward them for coming, like they won the lotto, then repeat. I will also make it part of the feeding ritual, so instead of putting the bowl on the ground and practicing their “stays”, I will use the sound (as I back away) then put the bowl on the floor (for a few bites) then repeat. If your dog is food possessive (aggressive), don’t put the bowl on the floor and only have enough in the bowl for one bite, then keep repeating this step. Over a short period of time your dog will be more tolerant of your hand being near the food.
Step 4. The next step is to practice in the back and front yards, around the neighbourhood and eventually around people and other dogs. Remember to slowly increase the distance you are from them, we want this to be a positive experience and you want them coming in all situations. IF your dog gets distracted easily by other things and is ignoring the sound, practice with them on a leash or have the distractions at more of a distance.
The bigger the distraction is, the bigger the reward may need to be. Don’t be afraid to use turkey slices to get Fido to “come” during those high distracted times. Use a release command (“OK”) once the treat and praise is given. This releases them from your expectation and they can go back and play. In the near future, I will be making a video on this.
By practicing, in no time at all they will be running to you as if their life depends on it, which could happen someday. Teaching sound cues is just one of several things you can do to help your dog understand the importance of coming when called.
Don’t forget to subscribing to my blog with just your email, you’ll be notified when I post new training tips.
Visit my Youtube Channel and Facebook page.