Monday, July 05, 2010

100 % recall

Susan Garrett posted a link to a survey she asked folks to complete - I'm really bad at links but I suspect those of you who might be interested already keep an eye on her blog. (If not, ask and I'll post the link). She is trying to find out about recall rates.

She asked if any of your dogs had a 100% recall and two of our dogs do. I could not think of a situation that Brody or Sally won't come in if I go to fail safe recalling. We have different levels of recall around here .. just saying the dogs name means look at us, a "check in" means circle back towards us until we holler OK then off you go again.. stay close means stay within flexi lead distance .. 'this way' means join on us the trail we are on and "HERE" means come to sit in front of us (or stand if you are a tiny dog) and stay close until you get another direction. "Come" simply means head our way til you here what my slow brain is actually processing.

I am not a dog trainer and chose to simply manage a lot of behaviours. My dogs will eat cat food if they get a chance and raid a garbage can too. My dogs jump on some of their favourite people (who, let's be serious, encourage them). Our dogs are primarily companions though and a solid recall can be life and death for them. They don't live in crates so could conceivably sneak out the front door when there is a delivery made - they'd better come back if they head for the road.

We are very fortunate to walk on a 107 acre property - but there are deer trails, baby ducklings, coyotes, hawks, wild turkeys, tractors doing work, atvs etc as distractions. If a dog's recall isn't pretty solid you can't exactly let them off leash in the face of those potential distractions. We want to be able to have our dogs running off leash and enjoying the great smells. So, I teach a rocking recall!

I often have a clicker in my pocket on walks, I often have some treats - sometimes just kibble sometimes something FABULOUS. Once the dogs know the terms sometimes they get a reward sometimes they don't.

Thea's recall is probably about 80% - she is the third wheel dog in my training life so I'm pretty impressed with 80% now that I think about it. I cheat with Thea too - I pick her up when the hawks are close for example. It's kind of challenging having a 6 pound dog who thinks she's a big farm dog too.

Sampson's recall improves every day - in some situations he's 50% in some he's 70+. His issue is he hasn't really mastered the art of check in yet ... he's either slamming into a excellent recall right in front of me or got his nose to the ground with his tail flagging furiously as he inhales the odours of nature. My goals for him this summer are mastering the various comes and down :)

I enjoyed the survey - I found it thought provoking. It is quite interesting to me that folks who read Susan's blog might not have pretty solid recalls in all situations. What does the lily pictured above have to do with recall training? It was planted three years ago and finally flowered this year. It took faith and time to mature into the beauty you see now. (I'm lying about the reason for posting it though the story is true) It's the nicest picture I have on the computer that I'm sure you've never seen before! And I appreciate a thing of beauty so thought you might too.

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