Thursday, October 20, 2011

The most important lesson

As far as I am concerned training is one of the best ways to bond with your dog and to prevent behavioural problems. However, that is my opinion and I realize not everyone is interested in training. That being said though, there are two things that every dog needs to know. Come and stay. These are not optional commands in my books. They are necessities. They may very well save your dog's life one day, and if not they will at least save you a few heart attacks.

I posted a little while ago about Summit's recall issues. To recap, his recall is amazing except in two situations... when he's doing zoomies and when he's running with other dogs (mainly non-greys). So to this respect we have been doing some work.

The problem was he would start zooming right by me, and even if I reached out to grab him he just kept going. Scolding and using my "angry mommy" voice had no effect when he was that geared up. A change in approach was needed. So I went out and bought a 20ft lead. I figured that would give me something to grab onto as he ran by and haul him back to me. This approach essentially forces him to come and doesn't afford him the opportunity to not listen or evade. I also found the added benefit that with the line dragging he seems to think he's actually still attached to me and listens much better. On the first recall I often had to grab the line and reel him in to remind him of the objective, and after that he started to come back every time. After only a few sessions in the backyard he no longer needs the long line, and in fact he now does one lap and even if I don't call him he comes right back. At this point I am confident that he gets the idea... at least in the backyard, which means it is time to take this show on the road and do the same training in other small, fenced areas to reinforce the lesson. Following that I am going to start adding in dogs, Summit's greatest weakness. After that I will probably test him in a larger space, possibly with other greyhounds.

And at one point he yelps. Don't worry. He wasn't hurt in the slightest. When he felt the tug on the line he turned to come back but got the line tangled in his feet and had a mini freak out. That's my boy... afraid of long skinny things on the ground... leashes, electronic wires, hoses....

And yes, I am aware that sometimes I call him more than once. No, you shouldn't do that. It should be one call and then go get your dog if he doesn't listen. Sometimes as I'm going to go get him though I repeat the command. Can't tell you why or how I got into that bad habit, but it's something I try to remember not to do when I retrieve him. And yes, occasionally there's a little edge in my voice if he doesn't listen... just a reminder to him that I won't be happy if he doesn't obey. But notice that even when I have to catch him or "scold" him, that when he gets to me there's praise and rewards. No matter how angry you are because your dog just took off through the forest for 20 minutes and wouldn't listen to you, you still have to get out the high pitched squeaky voice and the treats when he does finally come!

1 comment:

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Great job! I love using a long line.