One of the tools that we use in our class to set the recall into a dogs mind is called Puppy Ping-Pong. When training your Labrador Retriever this tool can make the difference between a Lab that runs away and examines the neighborhood and a dog that stays with you when you are out and about. Puppy Ping-Pong is a training tool, and a game that the dogs love. It is a way to gain a measure of control over your Lab that will go a long way towards getting the Labrador Retriever that you wanted when you saw that cuddly little bundle at the breeder.
Puppy Ping-Pong is a game that you can play inside the house until you feel confident with your Labs responses. You need a treat that is irresistible to your pup and a helper. To start out a long hallway is the ideal place to set-up. Show the pup a treat and back up a few steps while teasing the pup with the treat. If it comes with you, great! If not, toss the treat a few inches in front of the pup to get it heading towards you. Then tease it with another treat and back up a couple of feet. When the pup comes to you, make a huge happy deal over it.
Now your partner needs to get the pup’s attention. He should repeat the same procedure that you just went through to get the pup to come to him. This should happen pretty quickly if the pup is enjoying the game. Eventually you should be able to get the pup bouncing back and forth between you. This should be exciting and fun for your pup.
When your pup is running back and forth as quickly as it can and is grabbing the treat and turning to the other person, you have the behavior established. Make one more big exciting deal over your pup and quit for the time being. You can repeat this a couple of times a day but keep your sessions short. Do this for a week and you will have a reliable recall started.
This is just the first stage in training your Labrador Retriever. Labs are very location specific so once you have this behavior established inside your hallway, move to a different part of the house. You will be starting over in your new location so don’t be surprised if you need to go back to the basics and work from there.
Working well in the kitchen? Try the bedroom, got the bedroom down? Take it outside. When you make the jump to training the recall outside, make sure you have a secure situation. If you need to put a long line on your pup to keep it safe this is a good idea. Eventually you will be able to call your dog from a long distance and be assured that this training your Labrador Retriever has undergone is solid and well established.