Practice Recall with the Paper Plate Game
Dog training should be fun. This is an effective and fun recall game for both you and your dog. It works by teaching your dog to run away from you. (Let’s face it, when you really need your dog to return to you, how likely is it that he will be sitting and looking at you?)
This method was pioneered by Dick Russell using a paper plate as a target. As a target, we recommend a lid or flyer, like the Ollydog Flyer (less likely to blow away and is washable). You also want high valued treats, like chicken, meatballs or Orijen freeze dried treats.
Start your dog on leash at your side facing the lid. Hold the end of the leash in your hand closest to the dog, and loop a finger in his collar to restrain him if he doesn’t have a solid stay yet (you’re working on that separately).
Drop the lid (from your other hand) about 12″ in front of him. Have two treats in your free hand, drop one on the lid, point at it, and say your command to run away as you let go of his collar. Common words are “Go”, “Away”, “Flee” (don’t use “Flee” if your release word is “Free”, for the obvious reason!).
While your dog eats the treat off the lid, back away to the end of your leash and call him as soon as he finishes the food, “Fido, Come!” When he gets to you he gets the second treat from your hand. The leash is there in case you need to back up your command with a nudge.
- Always mark and praise while the dog is moving toward you.
- When he arrives, take him gently by the collar, pet him, tell him what a good dog he is, while giving the treat.
- After your dog understands the game, increase the distance to the lid, thereby increasing the distance he has to return to you.
- Make sure that after they put the treat on the plate, then step away from the plate. We want the dog to look for the plate, not the human.
- If your dog decides that retrieving the lid is fun, use something heavier, like a piece of tile, or drain pan from a terra cotta pot, both available at Home Depot.
- This is also a great way to exercise your dog once he knows the game. You can start hiding the lid behind a clump of grass or under a leaf. You can use multiple lids too. You pup runs to one, then returns to you, then you point at another lid, and so on.
Rules of the Recall
- Give your dog your full attention.
- Practice in a safe enclosure, or use the long line for more distance.
- Make it fun. Your dog should love coming to you.
- Do not call your dog over and over again. Be prepared to start the process over if your dog does not respond the first few times.
- The second Fido turns and starts coming to you, praise, then reward.
- Do not chase your dog. Back up, away from your dog, to draw him toward you.
- Never issue a correction to a dog that is coming to you. A dog that is coming to you is doing something good. Don’t break that trust by punishing him for coming to you.
- Never call your dog to you in order to give him a correction. If you need to correct your dog, go to him.
- Don’t call your dog to do something to him that he finds unpleasant (such as bath, medications, etc.). Go to him.
Homework and tips were provided by Debbie Pinthus, Dog Trainer and owner of Westside Dog Sports.