If you’re struggling with Lurcher recall – You have my sympathy.
I have started with recall because it is the one thing that most long dog owners have trouble with.
I can remember standing for ages yelling at my dog to come back and he never even turned round to see who it was.
Of all dogs Lurchers and Greyhounds can be the worst to train.
It reminds me of an old story about a farmer who had a really troublesome sheep. No matter what he did the sheep kept ramming things.
It had broken doors, gates and had even had a go at the farmer and his wife.
One day he was having a pint in the local with a friend of his and he explained all the problems that he’d had with the sheep.
” you want to get the sheep trainer round” his mate said.
” you can’t train a sheep” the farmer groaned ” they’re too stupid.
“No” his mate replied “and there’s one at the top of the village, I’ll get you his phone number.”
The farmer thought there’s nothing to lose and so he sent for the sheep trainer who turned up first thing the next morning.
“follow me, the sheeps round he back of this barn” said the old timer.
About an hour later the farmer heard a awful din coming from behind the barn and ran round there to see what was going on.
Sure enough there was the sheep and the sheep trainer who was smacking the unfortunate animal over the head with a large plank of wood.
“wo there” the old boy shouted ” What are you doing, that won’t teach it anything – will it?”
“Oh no” replied the sheep trainer ” but before you can train em you has to get their attention”.
Well I can assure you that long dogs aren’t stupid but it can be difficult to get their attention.
In fact some will never be perfectly trained to return when called. It’s part of their nature.
Once they see something that’s more interesting than you are, such as a rabbit, a squirrel, a cat or just another dog they lock on to it. Every bit of concentration and brain power is focused on the prey and they see everything that they chase, even balls, as prey.
I’ve watched many dog owners out in the fields with a long lead blowing whistles, clicking clickers or turning blue in the face.
The dog never bats an eyelid. He caries on with what he wants to do.
How do I know all this? because I’ve done it, I’ve been there and I’ve got several tee shirts.
It’s a waste of time.
The first must have in Lurcher Recall Training
I learnt the hard way that you will get no where until you develop patience.
And I don’t mean calling the dog twice before descending into pure rage, I mean PATIENCE.
As soon as you lose it and show aggression to one of these sensitive rogues you have no chance of getting it to come near you.
After all would you go to someone who was screaming and shout at you or threatening you with a lead. I know I wouldn’t.
In fact training in the field comes a long time after training itself begins.
So lets start right at the beginning.
The First Steps in Training
All dog training is based on reward. Gone are the days of trying to beat some sense into animals.
It simply doesn’t work!
So the very first step is to chose your reward or treat. That sounds obvious enough but there’s a bit more to it than you may think.
It must be a TREAT, there I go with the capitals, not just some item of food.
It is no use giving most dogs a kibble of her regular food if you want her to run the length of a football field, leaving behind her prey, just because you call.
Find something that he doesn’t get often, in fact make sure she doesn’t get it often and something that the dog will go wild for.
I found that doggie chocolate drops worked but then I discovered that rolling little balls of cheese made excellent treats.
When Johnson tired of cheese balls I discovered that broken bits of Ginger-nut biscuits would rekindle his enthusiasm.
So that’s step one – Find the best treat and save it for training.
Chose a Signal
If you are only interested in recall training then using a simple command such as here (pronounced heeyer ) will do.
If you want to train several commands then you will have to accustom the dog to a sound such as a whistle or a clicker.
Whilst a clicker is fine for most commands the recalling of a locked-on Lurcher at the other end of a field is unlikely to work. But by the same token a whistle to train your dog in the house is going to drive you and your family mad.
OK so we know what our signal is and we know what treat is irresistible, so we can make a start.
Now sit Back and watch the TV
Over the next week or two call her every once in a while and either give her a treat or stroke and fuss her. Don’t give a treat every-time.
We want her to come and see if there is anything for her.
If you keep the treats in a resealable container close to your chair you can just do it when you think about it.
At this point we just want your dog to learn that the signal is a pleasant thing.
Don’t rush this, or become despondent if progress is slow. It would be a lot more difficult if we were to start the recall training outside with all the sights and sounds to distract her.
Keep this up until you are getting some good results. The, and only then, we will progress to the great outdoors.
Equipment that you will Need for the Next Stage
I’m putting this here to give you time to get anything that you need before wee move on. So here is a short list.
A Harness –
When training outside you will be using a long lead and this will allow your dog to run at speed before the lead pulls tight and stops her. If we used an ordinary collar there is a possibility of yanking back your dogs head which is very dangerous. Lurcher an Greyhounds have very slim and quite delicate necks.
Clicker or Whistle
The choice is entirely yours. If you prefer, and have a voice that carries, you can just shout commands.
This is a necessity for this type of training and will also come in handy for teaching the stay command or as an extra lead when out walking.
There are quite a few different types so I have included a link ( just click on the picture) that will show a range of different types.
The type that rewind at the press of a button can be easier to use but , as with all long leads, please ensure that they do not get dragged through your fingers. I managed to get friction burns on one hand on the very first day that I had the lead.
In the next part we will use what we have done to go outside for some real fun and training.