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Monday, July 6, 2015

Positive Training - The Recall

Today is the Positive Training Blog Hop! I haven't talked much about training here recently primarily because Shyla's socialization has come so far that we haven't had many big changes recently. Today, instead of socialization, I'll talk out our recall training.

Just today, I had reason to be very thankful that I practice recalls with Shyla daily.
I have no doubt that Shyla knows what I mean when I call "Shyla, Come!". I don't keep count - but my guess is that we do at least 10 recalls every morning.
For almost every recall, she instantly propels herself toward me with incredible enthusiasm.
And, when she arrives next to me, we have a treat party!
Since she's become so good at recalls, I've raised my standard. She needs to run to me FAST to be rewarded by a treat party.

Today, it was pouring rain, and my enthusiasm was lagging. That might have been part of why her first couple of recalls were lackluster. When I see her trotting slowly rather than galloping fast for a recall, I say "try again". Somehow, she's learned exactly what "try again" means (I didn't purposely teach her it). Shyla then goes back to where ever she was when I called her and awaits another recall. I remind her to "stay", and then I tease her by excitedly talking to her and doing a countdown: "three, two, one, SHYLA COME!".

That almost always works - producing a very fast recall.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I had special reason to be thankful for our work on recalls today. As it poured rain, we came out of the forest into a clearing and a mother deer with her fawn were standing just in front of us. Last year, we had a bad incident in almost exactly the same situation where Shyla chased and deeply scared the fawn. I was horrified, and I wrote about how frustrated I was with my "teenaged dog".

Today, Shyla took about 3 steps towards the mom and fawn before I said "Shyla Come!". And, she turned on a dime to return to my side. We had the biggest treat party of our lives!!!! Seriously, Shyla seemed in disbelief at how many tiny treats I gave her, one by one, while I told her what an amazingly good dog she is!!!

I  believe that recalls are the most important part of training because a good recall can keep a dog (and the wildlife) safe. Consequently, we are participating in Susan Garrett's Brilliant Recalls program.

As I read through the program's materials, I realized that I've totally neglected training recalls around the distractions that can happen indoors - like food dropped on the ground, guests at the door, or wild animals walking by outside the windows. It will be lots of fun to try using Susan Garrett's techniques to train a good indoor recall.

But, it'll never be quite as much fun as recalls in meadows full of flowers.
I am still marveling at how well Shyla did today with the deer and fawn. Back when I first learned about "positive training", I didn't honestly believe that a dog would learn to leave something so exciting simply by using positive reinforcement. Now, almost a decade later, I believe it.

29 comments:

  1. Great job Shyla! We spend a lot of time practicing recalls, too! I usually always reward every time they come even if it's not very enthusiastic because I worry about it harming the recall. If they race back to me with enthusiasm I always give a jackpot, though!

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  2. We do practice recalls too, but we use the word "here". They both do very well in the house and in the yard. We could really use some practice in a more open area, but not sure I have enough confidence in their Siberian nature to give it a try:)

    Ciara takes her Keppra on schedule every day, but she has had a couple of seizures break through any way. She may need to change her meds or add something else. Time will tell. Tonight we had no fireworks, but we came quite close to having a tornado touch down:( That didn't help much either.

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  3. Since mom brought Judd home I've been a little hard hearing when she calls me to come inside. I love your last two photos Shyla.

    Aroo to you,
    Sully

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  4. WOW! First of all, the "try again" is genius. And second, coming to you instead of chasing a deer is a really advanced skill. I've heard lots of dog trainers say that their own dogs won't even do that. So, well done!

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  5. She is amazing!!!!! And you are too KB. It reminded me of when I first got Goose. He was almost 1 year (I got him when he was 6 months) I was fishing and coming down behind us came three deer. Goose heard some rock falling from the movement of the deer and just like that he was off like a shot chasing after the deer up the mountain side and out of sight. I did call him and call him. And then I just stood there not knowing if I would ever see my new pup again. I was at a loss. Then 20 minutes later he came back to me tongue hanging to the ground very pleased with himself. We went right home and after he rested up we began working on his recall. So thankful he picked it up quickly. But I will say there was a time or two that he did not heed the command. But for the most part he always did. And when he didn't we would work on it even more.
    Blessings,
    Michelle

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  6. Wow, that's truly amazing! Hurray Shyla!

    Actually, this reminds me of a funny memory. One of Pip's favorite places to visit was northern Wisconsin. He loved all the smells, the river and especially the deer. He liked to bark at the deer, but the funny part is that they were never afraid of him. He would charge out barking and they would look up and then calmly return to eating. Every once in awhile one would trot away not out of fear, but probably just tired of listening to him bark and then Pip would be so proud that he had chased the deer away.

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  7. You are an amazing trainer, and you inspire me to be better too
    hugs
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

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  8. You are wonder and a great Mom and trainer A tip of the tail to Shyla too

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  9. Oh KB..
    This is soo wonderful,,, and thank you for sharing it.. Yes.. your amazing,, to teach Shyla,,,,
    And its soo wonderful that she responds to you sooo happily..
    I think we need to have a treat part too!
    Good job,, and the photo of Shyla zooming through the flowers is beautiful.
    love
    tweedles

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  10. Good job Shyla! I'm not sure how Mr. N would be around deer, he hasn't seen them before. I did get him to recall off chasing a squirrel after much work. We've signed up for Recallers too.

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  11. You are an amazing team, you and Shyla! Its a joy to hear about your exploits and how well you handle them together.

    Cheers,
    Stella, Zkhat and Jo

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  12. You are an amazing team, you and Shyla! Its a joy to hear about your exploits and how well you handle them together.

    Cheers,
    Stella, Zkhat and Jo

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  13. Yay, Shyla! We wish you could see the broad smiles on our faces☺ Good girl!

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  14. Great Job!!! You two work so well together! The pictures of Shyla in the meadow are just beautiful!

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  15. Wow - excellent job Shyla - and YOU as it takes a lot of dedication to get such good behavior. It reminds me how neglectful I've been of Jack & Maggie's training...need to get back on the program!

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  16. We pugs fink our ears are to full of dirt to hear our mom when she calls our names, that is why we mostly stay inside of Alcatraz, we are glad though that shayla listens to you!!!
    stella rose

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  17. We are very proud of you too Shyla!

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  18. For the safety of wildlife, and Torrey herself, I'm glad she has a good "stop" and recall. The wildlife are glad too.

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  19. We do great on recalls unless there is a wabbit or squirrel, then forget it. We are scent hounds and even if Mom has fresh liver with her, we are not interested. It is just a fact, we are on leash unless an area is fenced.

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  20. Mom told us to read this 87 times to see how good Shyla listens
    Lily & Edward

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  21. We usually do well on recalls except mom says we aren't totally trustworthy. HUH? That hurt our feelings!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  22. Amazingly, Harlow's recall is solid, although I don't like to test it. In our neck of the words (even here in Wyoming) there are just too many things that can go wrong - mainly people caused.

    Monty and Harlow

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  23. congratulations to both of you!
    and such beautiful photos!

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  24. Honey and I also practice recalls regularly, including with the distractions of geese and other critters. But I never thought of "try again" to get more enthusiasm.

    I hope you don't mind if I borrow your idea.

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  25. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post so much. I wish I could walk with you and your labs one day just to get a sense of timing and how much and what not. Our recalls are good but not off a deer for sure. Usually i make them wear bells to warn off wild life or I myself make a ton of noise if it's on our own property where wild life live. Oddly Juno, the HUSKY, can call off things much better than Loki, the GSD-Formosan who's drive should be totally about the handler. But I gotta tell you, being sick and tired all the time, it's really hard even mentally to practice / train. Most of our walks now are leashed because I'm too tired and weak to really be on top of them, and they only get off leash on our property (which is about .5 mile trail). But I know when I feel better I will try this program you are trying. It sounds awesome ! Congratulations! I'm so impressed!

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  26. I use a cheerful "Nope!" like you use "try again." Recall is the single most important thing, and unfortunately the hardest thing for us to practice, not having any safe, enclosed space to do so. Boca is pretty dependable - it's just her nature to want to stay close. Between Ruby's energy and high prey drive, she is the real challenge. I love these pictures of Shyla happily bounding toward you! Thanks for joining the hop, you two are a beautiful example of the bond positive training creates.

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  27. That's wonderful!! I really need to work Delilah on her recalls. I could allow her so many more freedoms if I could only trust that she would return.

    I did sign up for an online recall class and have to start going through those materials. I do like your idea of 'revving' her up to entice the game.

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  28. I realize I've been slacking on Macy's recall... Thanks for the reminder!

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