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Recall to Heel

We use recall to heel in two main places - for lead out recalls off the start line or table, and serpentines. This teaches the dog to collect their stride on the approach to the handler and make a turn. It cues a turn without the handler having to change sides, so it can help the handler stay ahead of the dog.

Start with teaching your dog a recall to heel on the flat following the steps in this video. You can use different things as a prop - a pole, a cone, a jump wing. We just want something to help the dog to tuck into our side.

Once they can do it nicely with no prop, do the same exercise on a low jump. Start with a low height, and work up to full height as the dog is successful. Make sure to work this on both sides, because sometimes one side is easier for the dog than the other.

When training on a jump we want to first work on getting nice collection, then work on commitment.

1. When working on collection, start with the dog fairly close to the jump so they don't have a lot of speed. The handler stays in the same position each time, just the dog is moves positions. The handler should be close to the wing, just enough room for the dog to fit between you and the wing. If I am cueing a left turn, my left hand is signaling (I hold it over the bar towards the dog's nose. In kind of a stop sign signal), I also step back with my left leg. As the dog jumps, only my left leg moves to come together with my right leg. Just like we were doing on the flat.

Keep the jump pretty low and work the dog farther back from the jump. I move them back about 2ft at a time, and keep going to about 20ft as long as they are still giving you nice collection. At this point, add a previous jump in so you are doing the recall at jump #2. Then you can start raising the jump up to full height. If you need to move the dog closer to the second jump as you raise the height.

2. When the collection is good, start to work on the commitment. We want to be able to give the recall signal and start to move towards the next jump as soon as we need to. Sometimes this will cause the dog to bypass the jump you're doing the recall on and follow you. Start adding speed slowly - when you know the dog is going to take the recall jump, move one or two steps towards the #1 marker. Start moving sooner and sooner, see how close you can get to the #1 marker before the dog takes the jump. If the dog does skip the jump and follow you, don't reward. Try the same thing again, and if they still make a mistake, slow down the next time.

You also want to practice different angles on you lead out, because it just depends on where the next jump would be.

If you are struggling with getting collection at higher heights, you can ask them to stop before they jump. Start by rewarding them on the take off side with your hand that's signaling the recall. Make it VERY obvious that you have food in that hand, stick it far over the bar and I cue a verbal "wait" or "sit" cue, reward them for stopping, then step back and cue the jump and reward again after the jump in heel position. After some repetitions you can randomize when you feed before the jump, sometimes just give the "stop sign" cue, then don't reward before the jump.

Remember the dog should be "sticking the landing" next to you, if they are using you to stop and bouncing off of your leg, or floating out behind or in front of you - take some speed away by starting them closer, lower the jump, or reward them before take off.


Now we are going to look at positioning when in sequence. When you are cueing a recall you want to be able to see your dog between the wings of the jump and be facing the direction you're going next. Where the next jump is, dictates where you stand. You are trying to find the point between the center of the bar of the recall jump, and the outside wing of the next obstacle. This helps cue the appropriate degree of turn for the dog and helps them know where they are going and keep the bar up.

See Examples below. Handler should lead out to the H marker in each example. Feet pointed towards #3 and left hand pointed towards the dog over the #2 jump.

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