Shiva has a good recall. She doesn’t have a great one, or even a solid one, but she has a good one. Item number 97 on my life list is to perfect my dog’s recall. We’re not anywhere near that level yet but I think we are getting there.
Recalls weren’t always something I deemed very important. We worked on them in our early obedience classes, however, I didn’t think I’d be letting her free to roam any time soon. The first time Shiva got off-leash – she slipped her collar at the park – I panicked. After all, my only experiences with dog ownership usually resulted in watching my escape artist husky run over a hill and never come back. I assumed all dogs just naturally ran away once off-leash. Wouldn’t you? Apparently this is not always the case. Shiva has never run away on purpose. She just runs around. There is a very surprising difference. I don’t know if it has anything to do with her abandonment issues, which she has in spades, or if she just instinctively likes to keep us in her line of sight. Once I learned that Shiva wasn’t interested in taking off and never coming back, I stopped worrying so much about having a good recall. After all, my dog was a natural.
Er, and then again…
Agility changed my mind-set completely. In many ways the sport has made me a better trainer. I am much more aware of my body language in regards to Shiva and am much more present during our activities together. I learned very quickly that if we ever hope to succeed, Shiva’s recall will have to be excellent. There are no leashes, no collars, and no treats on the course. Without a recall, we’ll never get there.
Last summer, I signed up for Susan Garrett’s online recall course. I learned a ton of different games that would help increase Shiva’s focus and drive to work with me. We are much further now than we have ever been. Her recall is pretty much 100%.
When it is just us.
Add in dogs, people, cats, birds, shopping bags that blow in the wind… It’s a completely different thing. I can call her away from another dog easily enough – once she has reached him. I don’t even try to stop her once she has set off in a dead run. There is no point. She won’t remember I exist until she has reached her destination.
Obviously, this is problematic. People don’t always appreciate a dog running up to them at top speed. Other dogs don’t always enjoy a Shiva onslaught either. I can’t say I blame them. This prevents me from taking her to some of the nearby off-leash sports fields during normal hours. Given our lack of a fenced yard, we don’t get a chance to work on off-leash behaviours unless we can go to these fields. I can go after dark – and have done so – but for a lot of reasons this is hardly ideal. The parks are not always well-lit for one. I’ve had problems with that before. So, what to do?
I am curious how others have trained recalls. Any tips? Do you think it is something every dog should have or do you think it isn’t necessary for the average city pooch? I realise every dog is different and that some dogs are just never outside without a leash. I also know some people who almost always walk their dogs off-leash. Recalls can be a controversial training subject. Some think they are essential and reflect an owner’s relationship with her dog. Others see them has something nice to have but feel other things are more important. Where do you stand?
I managed to get it together enough to participate in Life With Dogs’ Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! Click on the badge below to check out the many other participating blogs. Happy Hopping!