Scatter Recalls




In this tutorial you are going to learn a fun game to kickstart your puppy’s recall training. Recall is when your puppy comes running back to you when you call them. The end goal behaviour is that your puppy rushes to you as soon as they process the cue, no matter the distractions in the environment. Eventually you may add in a sit as well as a collar hold whilst you clip on their lead.

To build a really reliable recall it’s essential that coming back is ALWAYS fun and never leads to a negative consequence for your puppy.

To begin with it’s important to keep it simple, so to start you are going to reward any movement your puppy makes towards you.

A brilliant game to start with is scatter recalls. In this game you start out by showing your puppy a tasty treat and then placing it on the floor for them to eat. This will keep your puppy engaged for a moment, during which you will move a few paces away and wait for your puppy to catch up. When they start to move closer, you’re going to mark and place a treat by your feet, before moving away again.

After a few repetitions you will see that your puppy predicts what is coming next and starts to run to you more quickly. You’re now going to wait until your puppy reaches you before marking and placing their reward on the floor at your feet.

After a short while your puppy will be running at you so quickly you’ll find it hard to move away before they’re beside you again!

At this point your puppy is not only coming to you through choice, but rushing as fast as they can to get back. This is EXACTLY what we want recall to look like.

Now you can add a cue word to call them to you. Common cues include come and here, but you can choose any word you’d like. To teach your puppy the verbal cue, you’re going to drop a treat to the floor to keep your puppy busy and then move away. As they finish eating, but before they start to move closer, say your chosen cue word. Wait for your puppy to come over before marking and rewarding them. Don’t forget to also praise and fuss them each time for doing a great job!

After a few repetitions you can test your puppy’s understanding of the cue word by saying it when they aren’t looking at you. Wait and see how long it takes them to respond and come over. When your puppy is really quick to respond you are ready to take their training to different environments – like your garden, neighbourhood, quiet public places and eventually busy environments too. When you are generalising your puppy’s skill make sure to build up gradually so you are both successful.

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