Thursday, March 24, 2011

recall update

Recalls: Considering my promise to my dogs at the beginning of the year and Susan Garrett's recent focus on reliable recalls, I have decided to step it up...especially for Epic.

I have been working on increasing the rate of reinforcement (giving my dogs treats every time they come to me) and trying to never call them if I think they will ignore me. I also realized that they do a drive by recall (they come for a treat and then zoom off again). We are working on an implied stay after a recall to solve this problem .

I am going to take Susan Garrett's recommendation and work through some distractions....starting with Epic & Pax. Of Susan's ideas these are the ones that I will work on: birds, sheep, door bell ringing, balls being thrown, smells, dog on leash, dogs running off leash, another family pet playing, another pet being fed, opening the front door, dogs doing agility/flyball nearby, toys on the floor, another dog tugging, squirrels, a toy thrown, a cat running, a swimming opportunity, leaving food. And for Epic I would like to add "someone holding a chuckit or tennis ball".

We will start with the easiest ones: dog on a leash, door bell, toys on the floor, smells, swimming opportunity (Pax not Epic), me standing still. I'll use a long line in these environments at first.

I am not going to be able to avoid the more difficult temptations, but I can commit to not setting up a situation in which I need to call them in a really distracting environment. Also, I probably can't do 3 five minute sessions a day, but I can definitely do one per day for five minutes.

I'll shoot for 20 recalls each session and use a variety of motivating toys and treats...and I'll start using a clicker.

For the next few weeks, I'll do the sessions at home with very little or no distractions and try out different rewards to see what is most motivating. I'll post an update when I have one.

And a brief overall update: Indigo is doing well in agility, but her handler needs to work with her at home to teach her weaves and some jumping drills before they can trial. She is also taking a nosework class and doing awesome with it. It is very fun and addictive!

We are going to our first tournament this weekend since December! Pax is doing really well with box work and we are taking it slow with full runs to build the basics first and get him really solid before we debut him. I'm pretty sure it will be this summer sometime, as he will be 1 in a few weeks. Epic needs wall work to fix his box turn and again, his handler needs to get working on that! We went to a Touch N Go seminar in February and got some great ideas and have been implementing a lot of changes in our training and how we run flyball practice.

For example...we use gutters to improve striding

Squishy tennis ball

I am volunteering at dog training classes to get more experience training and get some ideas for working with my own dogs and the flyball team.

We haven't been to another race practice with Pax, but there are several upcoming scheduled practices that we are planning on attending. Hopefully Pax can improve his recall before this.

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