Monday, January 03, 2011

Recalls and Stays

So a few people commented that they'd like to be bored to tears with my plan for Vito's recall. So I figured I might aswell really bore you all and write down my plan for a rock solid stay aswell.

First off I am changing the word. Stay to Wicca means kinda sorta stay in position until I release you. It is also a word that she associated with a lot of stress. It does not mean stay still- no feet moving, no slouching, no sniffing, no gawking. I need a word that means all of that. Criteria is important. So my new word for formal stays is "Place." Eventually Place will mean to stay without changing position. Right now Wicca is just learning that. (I will still use the word stay for agility etc. as she understands it in that context.)

I am using a placemat. (get it, Place.) lol. I couldn't help it.

She is learning to sit on the placemat and not move a muscle. If she leans forward, or moves a foot we break off and start all over again. No correction, no emotion just a flat "break" and we restart. There will be no correcting. Ever.

Right now I am right in front of her. Like less than a foot away. I will stay less than a foot away until she can hold a three minute sit. And then a three minute down. We are up to 30 seconds. That's in three training sessions. I will increase the distance (by a foot) when she is rock solid at each step. No mistakes, no signs of stress. It's going to be a long process but I think it will help her to understand that stays are fun and rewarding. Not scary.

As the process continues I will make the placemat smaller and smaller. I am not sure exactly when I will start to decrease the size, I think it will depend on her and her comfort level. I am hoping that this very broken down system will help. If we don't get the stays it won't be the end of the world- but what kind of trainer would I be if I gave up?


We've started with the name game- a refresher. Name = Cookie. After a few days Name = Running Vito. Anywhere in the house. I have cookies on me at all times. ALL TIMES. If I say his name I better have a cookie to back it up.

Next we will play the "Throw the Cookie" game. Throw the cookie a few feet away. After the dog gets the cookie- Name, wait for head turn, Click followed by Come! followed by big huge jackpot of cookies. 'Tis fun and dog should catch on really fast. Vito starts listening for his name on the way out to the thrown cookie already. The jackpot is a pretty big draw.

And then we will play the "Throw the Cookie, but call the dog before he gets there" Game. This can be tough so set up for success right away. Throw the cookie close. As you release the dog to get the cookie say his name. Shove cookie in face and run back a few steps. As he is turning head CLICK and jackpot. After he does this a few times you can be a little farther away from the cookie. The reason you throw close to start is so that you can hopefully be in more control that way. Once he is solid on that I will increase the value of the distractor. Instead of just a mere cookie I may use a chunk of meat, or the cat, or a gross dead thing. (joking about the dead thing)

And of course I will do these things in every place I can think of. Inside to start, and then the yard, and then the park, and then the dog park, etc. I will also get in as many restrained recalls as I can. This won't be many as I live alone- but if you have a helper restrained recalls are a GREAT way to increase the excitment for a recall. I think the key factor in all of this is the timing of the marker work or click. Make sure you are rewarding the dog for motion towards you. First a head tilt, and then a step, and then running. Change the criteria, don't be rewarding the head turn for five weeks.

Hopefully after all this Vito's ears will work better. Already in just a few days he was great on our walk today. Amazing what a little training will do.


K-Koira said...

The one biggest thing that helped my dogs' recalls is doing flyball with them. We start every practice with restrained recalls over jumps, and it has jazzed up my dogs big time for the recall.

Jen said...

Awesome ideas! I love the ideas for both stay and recall and have given me some fresh/new ideas for my baby Jack, Murphy. I have a Border CollieX and a Lab, so am used to dogs who WANT to work. Murphy is her own dog, that's for sure!


Jen and the Black Dog Crew