Grrr! Aaaargh!

It was agility time again at Beanie’s training class this week, and this time I took the camera along:

As you can see, Beanie had to be kept on lead for fear that she’d shoot off after any unguarded treats. Despite that, we are starting to regain some of the ground lost when her sniffer went into overdrive, at least at home. We can now place tempting treats on the ground and successfully recall Beanie without any unplanned snacking. In fact it’s quite amusing to watch. She stares at the various edibles longingly as she waits to be called, yet gives them a wide berth as she runs to us. It’s almost as if she knows she won’t be able to control herself if she gets to close to temptation…

Recall outside the house is starting to improve too. I put this down to an adaptation of a “natural training” exercise we’ve been trying:

  • Stalk the dog slowly with a suitable tug-toy ready in one hand, making “Grrrr” noises and trying to make yourself appear bigger as you go
  • When the dog starts to react, suddenly turn tail and run away from the dog
  • Engage the dog in a game of tug when it gives chase, letting the dog win

The first time we tried this Beanie backed off as we approached, then chased excitedly as soon as we took flight. A few repetitions later she knew what to expect and ran to us even during the initial “Grrrr” phase. Shortly thereafter we found it much easier to hold Beanie’s attention on games with us, and even got her playing fetch outside (not for long admittedly, but still it was a first for Beanie!)

Now we’re using this game as an alternative to conventional recall when we needed to bring her in from the garden, or get her upstairs and into the run by our office. I think this is starting to break the negative associations she has with the “come” command – associations that we created by using it to bring her outside play sessions to an end.

Of course sometimes it all goes a bit wrong and our over-excited little pup grabs hold of the tug toy at the end I’m holding. If she notices she’s caught my hand in her jaw she immediately softens her grip, but if she doesn’t notice, well that’s where the “Aaaargh” part comes in!