Thursday, January 27, 2011

Puppy School: Part 2 - Recall

Stitch is now into his third week of puppy school.

Last week he learned the "down" command, given from a distance with the "down" hand signal (palm flat, facing down and parallel to the floor; then bounce a couple of times as if bouncing an invisible basketball).  Trainer Ally also went over "up" to come up for hugs or onto furniture (if allowed), followed by the "off" command, to get them off whatever they were on (like people or aforementioned furniture). Since Stitch was recovering from his surgery last week, we didn't really have time (or him, energy) to practice a lot of the new commands.

This week, however, the conehead is gone and Stitch is back to his regular, energetic self. Just in time, because trainer Ally went over "Recall" and "Stay," and it certainly tuckered out my little guy.

So "recall" is basically the term used for getting your dog to come when he or she is called. Trainer Ally had a great session for recall this week. First, the puppy parents identified their pups' greatest motivator - either a favorite toy or a treat. Ally recommended a tug toy, which works great for Stitch because he loves to play tug-o-war (plus it's a no-cal alternative to treats). Then we did some "restrained recalls" in class. This is how it worked:
  • Trainer Ally holds Stitch [or insert other puppy name here] by the leash
  • Doggie-mama (that's me!) takes the toy and starts walking away from Stitch (For the purposes of the in-class exercise, Stitch "borrowed" a tug rope with a squeaky toy attached at the end)
  • Doggie-mama makes toy really attractive for Stitch (swirl it around, press the squeaky toy, etc.) to get his attention and get him excited
  • Trainer Ally gives the command and Doggie-mama says, "Stitch, Come!"
  • Trainer Ally releases Stitch who runs excitedly towards mama and gets rewarded by playing with the toy
  • This is followed by the "Drop it" command, teaching Stitch to drop the toy (with a treat incentive)
After several exhausting rounds of Recall training with all the pups, we moved on to the "Stay" command.  Stitch was already somewhat familiar with this so it was just tidying up our routine, complete with hand signals:

"Down. Stay. Walk backwards away from puppy. Release! Sit. Praises and Treat."

Stitch, sitting and "staying," albeit slightly distracted

So after a very fun-filled yet tiring class, Stitch and I (mostly me) decided to take a few pictures in his class surroundings. You know, for his puppy scrapbook* and this blog:

Photo-op: Going once...

Photo-op: Going twice...

Photo-op: Gone!

Of course with all that activity and attention, Stitch's only recourse was this by the time he got into the car:

Stitched passed out on the passenger seat.
Yes, he is wearing a doggie seat belt.

*Note: Stitch does not have a puppy scrapbook. I'm not that neurotic. A blog is sufficient.


  1. HEEHEEHEE...Yuki needs to teach stitch how to work it in front of the camera! he is cute. his head is big!