Using clicker and/or whistle to retrain adult Labrador

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by Belinda Probert, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Belinda Probert

    Belinda Probert Registered Users

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    I have an almost three year old Labrador of the energetic working style. She is reasonably well trained but I now need to lift her training so that I have 'total recall' and better control over her excitement about meeting dogs or people on the street. I have read both the Labrador Handbook and Total Recall and wish I had read them when my dog was a puppy as they are far more useful than the generic dog training book I bought. So I am following Pippa's advice on starting again with the recall, having bought a harness and a long lead and a whistle.

    I have begun with teaching her to put her nose in my hand with a clicker marker. But I am wondering if I should adopt the whistle recall sound at the same time as I am teaching her using a clicker. I need to work with her in big open spaces where she is obsessed with retrieving (several balls and a stick at once is her preference) for which i am planning to use the whistle and long lead. But I also want to just do more training around home and when out walking so that I can eventually feel I could walk around my neighbourhood without using a lead.

    So my question is whether I should work on clicker for quite a while first to get her to respond to the downward hand, and only then move to the long lead whistle training for the park.
     
  2. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hi there Belinda and welcome to the forum. The whistle is one of a number of different cues you can use to trigger a recall. Most clicker trainers like to practice getting and reinforcing a behavior before adding a cue, whether the cue is a voice or hand signal or whistle. Dogs can respond to multiple cues but it's best to teach them one at a time. If you are using your hand as a cue for your dog to recall, once she is reliable at doing that, you can just add the whistle in front of the hand signal. If you are currently simply teaching your dog to target your hand with her nose, rather than to run to your hand from a distance, I wouldn't add the whistle yet. It's best if the whistle is first associated or paired, with the act of running towards you, before using it to trigger a recall. When you do decide to use the whistle, the long line will help avoid reinforcing errors in your dog's response.
     
  3. Belinda Probert

    Belinda Probert Registered Users

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    Thank you very much for such a prompt response! I think i understand about doing one thing at a time, so now my focus is on the hand signal. At this point I am simply teaching my dog to target my hand with her nose, and she can do this inside pretty well now. This will sound very basic, but if you are using the hand signal as a cue to recall how do you get them to look at it without using another cue once you are out in a more stimulating environment? Is that simply saying her name and expecting her to look at me and then notice my hand? (The answer to this may be in one of your books that I have, so I will definitely go and check my notes. I have also been reading your online guidance about clicker training for the retrieve as my dog is besotted with retrieving but after a while gets canny and fails to bring the ball back to me.)

    I think I know how to go about the whistle training with the long line, and can see that I shouldn't start this while working on the hand cue for recall. But I can't work out how to get from inside hand cue success (with clicker) to out and about hand cue success. My dog will be far too busy smelling something even if she isn't getting excited by another dog or friendly neighbour.

    I think I trying to work on too many things at once, and I might not need them all. I most definitely want to make the recall pretty well perfect (hence my plans for the whistle and long lead); and I want to get her to retrieve when and where I want her to, not to go retrieving everyone else's balls and refusing to stop following strangers who have interesting looking balls.

    Thank you again!
     
  4. pippa@labforumHQ

    pippa@labforumHQ Administrator

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    Hi there, you can't cue a recall with a hand signal unless the dog is looking at you. It's not an "all purpose" recall signal, you need to have the dog's attention first. If you want to press on with recall training outdoors and to start adding distractions then maybe just work through the whistle training program as described in your book?
     
  5. Belinda Probert

    Belinda Probert Registered Users

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    Thanks again. I'll start with the whistle training outdoors as this is the only really serious issue that gets in the way of taking my dog out to parks. My 10m biothane leash has just arrived and also the recommended whistle. I'll report in a in a month or two!
     

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