It's working!!!!! Every week I'm able to recall her in more and more distracting environments. I'm working through my distraction list (I have listed all the distractions that might cause her to ignore a recall, and rated them from 1 to 10). Since the zoomie incident in my previous post, I've added 2 more games to our recall games to try to cement understanding of the recall word when it involves her leaving something interesting, and what's likely to happen if she doesn't keep an eye on me.
Hide and Seek
I will admit that I dismissed
this game when I saw it. *MY* independent puppy would NEVER search for
me. *MY* puppy is FAR too independent to care if I fell off the face of
the earth. *SHE* would continue to live her happy little life in the
absence of my presence. Even if she DID notice I was gone - her superior
nose would tell her I was still in the area, and she would feel no need
to search for me.
I was wrong....oh so wrong...oh so HAPPILY wrong.
game is this: In a secure, safe area, give your puppy freedom. When
they are distracted and take their eyes off you, without saying
anything, hide. Let them whine and get really upset before making a
noise to help them out. When they find you, praise them and give them a
treat. The premise is that THEY should be keeping track of YOU, not the other way around.
I tried it. In the school homeroom after hours, she took her
eyes off me to check out the empty kennels in the area and I ducked
behind a couch. It took exactly 30 seconds for her to start whining and
running around looking for me. AND SHE COULDN'T FIND ME!
It was wonderful.
She couldn't find me. I had to start making noises. When she found me, she was OVERJOYED.
It didn't take her long to lose track of me again - I immediately hid in a different spot.
It took her about 10 seconds to realize I wasn't visible. No
whining this time, and she found me on her own without help, but it
wasn't easy for her to sniff me out!
She seemed a little confused. Wasn't the game that I kept an eye on her? Why did I keep disappearing????? It's so distressing for a poor little puppy!
Since then, I've tried it in the back yard. After 2-3 "hide and
seeks" I couldn't get away from her to hide - she was DETERMINED to not
let me out of her sight.
Cookies in the Corner
There is an
excellent video on MartinisRanch Youtube channel (linked on the resource
page) that demonstrates this game. I like it because it incorporates
the collar grab game, sending away from you, rewarding in the R zone,
and the recall. The basics are you send the dog away for a low value
treat, and immediately call them back for a high value treat. They
learn that no matter how much they want to sniff around the area of the
low value treat....the good treats are with you! A lot of my recall
issues are related to Tess thinking (and getting) reinforcement from the
environment that (she thinks) is higher value than what I can give
her.....this game proves her wrong!!!!