Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Total recall

I must toot my own horn just a little bit by saying that Summit's recall is really quite good. Being my first dog and being a greyhound no less, I am quite impressed with how far we have come in such a short time. Summit has only been with us for 10 months and I would say that with no distractions his recall is 99%. I don't think any dog's recall can be described as 100%... I don't think you can ever know that for sure. But 99% is pretty darn good. With certain distractions I would give his recall about 95%. Distractions like people, calm dogs, unfamiliar places, food. His one big pit fall is running dogs.

Why do I care to call him when he's running with other dogs? Because he's a jerk. I said it. He runs well with other greyhounds, but something about non-greys running works him up into an excited fervour. And I'm not talking about small fluffies exciting a prey drive (of which he has none). He loves running with small dogs but he's much more polite with them. It's dogs his own size that are a problem. He gets overstimulated and turns nasty. I think he doesn't like how they body slam and try to wrestle. But then that begs the question... knowing that other breeds do this why does he so desperately want to run with them? My hypothesis is that he knows he can easily beat them and he's competitive. I'm not sure how much of that is just imagination and how much is fact. But the teeth come out, he'll bat with his front feet and he will quite literally be on the verge of starting a fight. Go figure. And he will not come when called. I refuse to chase him around because that is not appropriate, and yet I can't just stand there and do nothing when he's being a total ass-face.

For the most part he isn't allowed off-leash time with non-greys for this very reason. However, every once in awhile it is unavoidable. This morning, for example, we were in the tennis court while other dogs ran off leash in the park. They came over and were running the fence line together. This is great because they can't make contact, Summit is less of a jerk, and therefore more receptive to listening. However, someone then let their dog into the tennis court with him. He was actually fairly well behaved, to my surprise, but of course had no listening skills. The problem is that even with all the dogs on the other side of the fence... he will start to respond to a command and then someone takes off running and he forgets he was coming and takes off. It's really something we need to work on. Unfortunately there aren't many opportunities for us to do this, and with him being worked up and running off leash there's no way to force him to come back to me. I had thought about putting a long line on him so I can call him while he's running and then carefully reel him in. However, I don't want to risk him tripping on the line and falling on the asphalt (let's face it that would be stitches for sure!).

So this is the conundrum and I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to do about it. He comes when called at greyhound runs... but he's not a jerk and he's just so much less stimulated. I have no idea what it is about non-greys that riles him up so much. I will post more about this as we continue to work on it.


jet said...

Barbie can be a jerk with other dogs - I think she is just doing it to make them run faster! She runs at their shoulder pushing in to them and sometimes growling (a habit I think she learned from her brother)... instead of using recall and risk her not listening, I started telling her to 'play nice', and if she doesn't, I go and get her. This has been quite effective. Keep working at it. Maybe exposing him to more different dogs in more controlled environments might help also?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I'd run my greyhounds down in this situation. I never have them off leash if I'm not dressed and ready to run them down if I have to. So in this situation, if my greyhound is running around and my call is ignored, I get in the mix and I'm ugly about it. I really like it if my greyhound will recognize that I'm mad, stop what she is doing, and start to look like she wants to make a deal... in that case, I immediately back off, call again, and highly reward... and then allow them to go back to what they are doing. If they are totally over stimulated, flat out ignoring me, and maybe even playing keep away.... I continue to storm after them and eventually catch them and scold them. Just enough so they know I'm not happy. Then I'll do another recall pretty soon after and totally over reward and jackpot it. I just want them to know that it is not option EVER. And that I will correct them if they ignore.... but its EXTREMELY rewarding to just come. I like to think of it as an interuption. "Hey, just wanted to give you some treats, now continue with what you are doing." But they absolutely can learn to recall out of this situation or doing a zoomie. Good luck!!!