Monday, January 14, 2013

DANGER! DANGER!

We learned an interesting command in Puppy Kindergarten last week: the emergency recall. Have you heard of this? This is separate from the “come” command. Truth is, even a well-trained dog may ignore “come” if he is tired, distracted or engaged in something more interesting than his owner. An emergency recall is designed to have a dog come without hesitation in a bona fide off-leash emergency (i.e. running loose on a busy street.)

We chose a separate, not commonly used word for the emergency recall – DANGER! – and train it in a higher pitched, almost panicky tone. I intentionally grab Jedi's collar once he reaches me. The idea is that if/when there is a real emergency, he won’t be startled by my tone or rougher than usual handling (because in a real emergency, it’s going to happen that way!) We use special, extra-yummy food as a reward and give lots of praise. The goal is to teach Jedi that when I yell “Jedi, DANGER! DANGER!” he’ll come running straight to me every time. Ideally, Jedi will come because he thinks there’s good stuff waiting for him, remaining oblivious to my panic over a potential crisis. Cool, hunh? The instructor said that she has received emails from grateful former students who had to use the emergency recall.

Want to teach your dog an emergency recall too? I found better instructions here. May you never have to use it! -- K