Instructor: Chrissi Schranz
Do you dream of a reliable real-life recall? Do you dream of a dog who pays attention to you, making sure not to lose you when you're out on an off-leash hike? A dog who keeps a certain radius around you? A dog who can be called off distractions like horse poop or squirrels? Do you want to learn how to effectively reward your dog even when you forget the cookies at home? Are you up for some interactive fun - no matter whether you are in your own yard, strolling through an urban area, or out on a nature hike? Come join us in Calling All Dogs!
The foundations for a great recall are a great relationship, a dog who believes it is HIS responsibility not to lose his human, and a human who knows how to effectively and creatively reward her dog. We will work on each of these elements separately before combining them into a recall in increasingly difficult environments.
** Depending on students' and dogs' previous knowledge and skill level, and the degree of independence and environmental focus of a particular dog, what can be achieved in this class will vary. However, if you work through the exercises and observe your dog closely, you will get to know him better, learn how to make your walks more interactive and fun for him, and improve your recall significantly.
There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.
Registration will begin at 10:00 AM Pacific Time.
For answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 25 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Silver level for this class is offered as "Working Silver". In addition to asking GENERAL clarification questions about the class lecture materials, silver students will now have the opportunity to submit two short videos, one minute each, for critique and review. You may submit two questions. Each question MUST have a one minute video attached so the instructor can actually answer a question that they can see. The question must relate to a topic in the class and the video must be a demo of the question. Please see the discussion forum for a detailed explanation - feel free to sign up at bronze, read the explanation, and then come back here to upgrade to silver if that interests you, and if space is available.
If you are interested in a bronze level subscription, you can sign up at any time during the registration period.
Week 1: It's all about the relationship: interactive games to spice up your walks
Clear communication: training with markers
Week 2: Shifting the responsibility to the dog: rewarding auto-check ins and establishing a radius
Week 3: Recall basics: conditioning a new recall cue, easy recall games without distractions
Week 4: Preparing for the real world: strategically introducing distractions
Week 5: Real-life rewards and challenges
Week 6: Recall problem solving
** Syllabus details are subject to change.
30' to 50' long line (biothane gives you the best grip)
Harness with a ring on the back
Access to a large field where you can safely let your dog off leash (e.g. friend's yard, a fenced tennis court or soccer field, a training field at your local dog sports club ...)
Lecture 5.1 The Recall Ladder: Raising Criteria in Real Life
You have systematically introduced your dog to distractions in easy environments. By now, she should be able to come when called off various food and toy distractions in your house and yard or other easy locations. Congratulations! You are ready to start calling your dog in real life! In order to continue her excellent success rate, it is crucial that you raise criteria incrementally and keep in mind that ...
- the greater the distance between you and your dog, the more difficult the recall.
- when your dog is walking away from you, the recall is more difficult than when she is looking at you.
- the more distracted your dog (sniffing, playing ...), the more difficult the recall.
- the more challenging the environment (noises, people, other dogs, wildlife ...), the more difficult the recall.
- the less satiated your dog’s desire to explore, sniff, run and play, the more difficult the recall.
This video was taken in my yard, but it is a good illustration for an important element of the lowest rank of the ladder: I wait until Grit has finished sniffing and is lifting her head. Only then do I give the recall cue! This way, I can be certain that she is ready to receive the cue and respond correctly! I'm setting her up for success! The fifth rung of the ladder might look almost the same - with one big difference: I'd call while she is was still sniffing.
This is an example for the lowest rank on the ladder in an intermediate environment (short distance, all three dogs are looking at me)
Please excuse the shakiness and angle of the next two videos! Even though the quality isn’t great, I thought it better to include them anyways than to not share them with you at all.
This is an example for a rung on the upper third of the recall ladder: the dog is less than 10 yards away from me, but trotting towards the people and dogs in the distance.
Finally, this is an example for the highest rung of the ladder: he has just started playing with the other dog, and I call him back right away. I treat and - this is VERY important, especially in the learning phase! - immediately send him back to play again. We will look into environmental rewards (Premack principle) in more detail in the last week of this class.
Before you start working on the ladder,
adjust it to your dog. For example, whether he finds birds, dogs, or squirrels more distracting may vary from one individual to the next. The easier a distraction, the lower it is on the ladder. It’s also possible that your dog’s ladder has a rung or two that are missing in my example, such as joggers, skateboards, wildlife, or cars! Think about it, then let me know how you are going to adjust the ladder for your dog.
Once you have customized your dog’s ladder, it’s time to start with the lowest rung. Stay at each rung until your dog has responded without hesitation five times in a row - then you are ready to move to the next rung! However, keep rewarding all lower rungs of the ladder as well, no matter how far up you get!
How to Reward on the Recall Ladder
We’ve already talked about the importance of rewarding with something that is higher value or the same value as the distraction/environment/situation you are asking your dog to leave behind. For the recall ladder, this means that in all cases, your reward needs to be worth more to your dog than continuing to move away from you, sniff the ground, or play. For the four lowest rungs of the ladder, this may be as simple as a medium value food reward. For rungs six to eight (counting from the bottom), this might be a high value food reward, or toy play. Once high distractions such as squirrels, birds, dogs (or, depending on your individual dog’s temptations, joggers, bikers, cars, cats ...) come into play, it is crucial that you reward extremely well: use your dog’s most favorite games, toys, and treats and, if safe and possible, combine them with a Premack reward: call your dog off the distraction, click, and reward by means of sending her back to play with the dog, chase the squirrel or run after the bird! In the next lecture, we’ll look into Premack rewards in more detail.
Please note: If your dog has a history of chasing wildlife and you want to be able to call him off such distractions, you might need additional help that goes beyond the scope of this class. Look into Mariah’s “Critter Control” class, then revisit the recall ladder!
Start working on your dog’s customized recall ladder! Remember to stay at each rung until she has been successful five times in a row. Let me know how it goes, and show me a video if you run into problems or have a special recall brag to share!
A sampling of what prior students have said about this course ...
Chrissi is a dedicated and talented instructor. She truly "listens" to her students and works with them to shape the homework to address their specific issues. I believe that this course made the biggest difference to me and my dog than any other that we've taken. It helped me to see the world from my dog's point of view and to shape my behavior to help my dog succeed. Chrissi taught us this. My dog's recalls are exponentially better, and the positive effects of that training is bleeding over into other aspects of our relationship and training. I am so glad that I took this course. Thank you, Chrissi from Claire and Shyla.
I really enjoyed this class. Chrissi's enthusiasm and support for all the Gold teams and their progress made this a great class to follow at Bronze. My dogs already had a good recall, but that has now become an AWESOME recall. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to improve their connection to their dog when out and about.
I said it in a couple of my posts but I want to put it here for the all to see: thank you for helping me with our particular recall issue and really strengthening this behavior overall. Because of you and your direction, Savvy can now spend some time off leash with all of my dogs safely and will come when I call her! This will only continue to get better with the foundation we have built in this class.
Chrissi is one of those instructors with whom one feels permanently helped, and one can only succeed. We made great progress in our relationship with Letty, my bitch. I realize that for this dog, the recall was not as natural as with my previous ones. The course of Chrissi is a pleasant discovery. Above all, don't change anything!
Tia and I thank you SO much for this course! It was super fun and confidence building for both of us. You are a terrific instructor. FDSA is lucky to have you.
Chrissi is a wonderful instructor and very helpful with her suggestions. The best thing about Calling All Dogs was no pressure to have a perfect engaged relationship with your dog. The games and methods were relaxed and enjoyable to work on.