Monday, January 5, 2009

hard recall

When my dogs call do I come? That's not a grammatical error.

Getting a dog to come when it's called is so important to its safety.
I have been wanting to do it since forever but unsure of myself and not wanting to do more damage than good I blamed my lack of time, lack of energy, the weather.
But enough is enough.
I recently got some advice (thank you Mark Thorson!) on exactly how to teach this vital training. I purchased a long length of rope. Ok so 100 feet of it may have been a bit excessive but I wanted to have it long enough so they'd forget it was there. A snap clip was attached to one end. That, a greyhound collar and some cheese and I was ready.
I started with Kayla. I have to admit I thought it was going to be days and days of working on this. I say this because I trained her to gait by jogging with her and making her stay at a trot. Keeping her from galloping was almost more than she could stand. Took a full mile before she could calm down and just gait properly.
This, however, piece of cake. I let her run and told her "Go!" She took off. About 25-30 feet away and I said, "Come!" She ignored me but I yanked on the rope, not too gently. I wanted to send a clear message that I was serious. I was advised that in this particular situation to drag her if necessary. Fortunately, going that far wasn't necesssary. I kept saying "Come" all the while pulling on her lead. When she got close enough I gave her a piece of cheese and lots of lovin.'
Then all over again with "Go!" and off she went. Over and over and within 5 or 6 times she understood what was expected.
That was yesterday.
Today. She needed a reminder the first time. This time we weren't in the pasture but on the driveway and when the dogs have gotten out they run off up our driveway and down the private road. The full 1/2 mile!! She thought, I'm sure it was time for one of these adventures. "Come!" No? Yank. Oh I see. You mean it here too. After that she came every time.
It's best to work with only one dog at a time and then when they have it solid move on to the thrill of having a cohort. So in the future I will try to share how training two or three at once works out.
1/2 dozen times with her. Started Celie on this training then too. And after Pan (aka Panda) and I worked on show handling. Put everything away and looked at the clock. 1/2 an hour. Um my excuse of not having enough time just bit the dust.

My dogs teach me that obstacles disappear when I stay focused on what really matters.

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