Normal lead or long line before start 'location' training (Total Recall)?

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by Juliet Marletta, May 2, 2020.

  1. Juliet Marletta

    Juliet Marletta Registered Users

    May 2, 2020
    I have a 13-month working cocker, Falcor, who, at 9 months, started chasing pheasant in the rural countryside where we live, ignoring our whistle. Just after Easter, he ran off for a good 20-30 minutes and was picked up by a farm manager in his truck, far away from where we were. I've just read all of Pippa Mattinson's excellent book 'Total Recall' and one week ago, started her Training Recall programme (part 2 of book). We are on Exercise 2 (Whistle Means Dinner or Wow), using a new whistle recall, and all going well so far. We have also started using a long training lead all day in house and garden, as suggested in 'Using a Training Lead' chapter, and Falcor has got used to this.
    My question: At this early stage of the Training Programme (still inside house or garden, and nowhere near the section 'On Location' training, out in the open, which could be a couple of months away), I'm not clear on how our walks should be. This period, before we reach the 'On Location' recall training out in the open with the brand new whistle recall and premium treats etc, walks seem a bit of a grey area. Before reading Pippa's book, we used to let Falcor off the lead as soon as we were off the road, and he would run free for all the walk (self-rewarding non-stop, as Pippa's book has explained!). Now we have started to walk him on his lead throughout his walks - but is this how our walks should be until we reach the 'On Location' part of recall training (2+ months away)? I have noted the section 'Managed Exercise' in the chapter 'Beyond Training' (part 1 of the book). Should we start already now dividing Falcor's walk into 5-minute sections, as Pippa suggests: eg. 5 mins on lead, 5 mins free run, 5 mins retrieval game? And if so, as we haven't yet trained him to recall in this situation, should we have him on the training lead during the 'free run' and 'retrieval game' - and recall him by running away/calling his name (not using new whistle recall and not using treats)? Or should we just continue walking Falcor on the lead during all walks?
    Thank you for any advice you can give!
  2. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

    Aug 25, 2018
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    I've got Pippa's book but I haven't read it recently so can't comment on that...

    But when training an older dog to recall (ie not a baby puppy) you need to somehow provide exercise for the dog, whilst avoiding using the recall phrase or whistle before you've trained it up in less distracting environments. How you do this, depends on what is available to you. Some people might have a safe enclosed area they can let the dog off leash without calling, some people might go jogging with the dog on a leash by their side, some people might use a long-line to grab when they need to - but avoiding calling the recall phrase yet.

    But the key point is to work out something that works for you, in terms of providing exercise without risking de-training the recall phrase or whistle. (Whilst you are training it up in less distracting environments.)
    mummyp85 likes this.
  3. mummyp85

    mummyp85 Registered Users

    Oct 11, 2019
    North West Norfolk, UK
    Hi Juliet. I have a year old working line Labrador who recalled fantastically until a couple of bad episodes with other dogs when he was 7 months old and led to him bolting. So in January we started retraining his recall using Pippas 'Total Recall'. At the point of lockdown we had just reach the part of the book where we were introducing friends dogs a distractions, so everything came to a halt then. To ensure he gets plenty of exercise without damaging the work already done on his recall, my husband takes him out once a day on short lead as we live in a town and I take him out once on the long line to a nearby open grassed area, using only his name to call him to me. I also use the long line for retrieval games when out because it is too near to a main road if he bolts again if startled. And he just has to chase cats which is a big distraction near our house. Although it's not full freedom, the long line does give him much more chance to exercise than short lead only and it doesn't seem to have desensitized his actual recall work although due to current situation we know it will mean some steps back again in the book when things change. But making sure he gets enough exercise has been of vital importance.

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